WASHINGTON — The House passed a bill by voice vote Wednesday that would exempt banks from sending out privacy notices to customers if the disclosures haven't changed from the prior year.

Industry groups, including the American Bankers Association, had lined up to support the bill, which they say would cut costs and reduce regulatory burden, especially as more customers sign up for electronic billing. Opponents have warned that the legislation will further erode consumer privacy protections.

But observers have said the bill still faces an uphill battle in the Senate as the clock runs down on the legislative session. It's unclear if the chamber will have the time to take up the Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act amidst continued fiscal cliff negotiations and other matters.

"This legislation would eliminate unnecessary, costly, confusing and often ignored mailings that clog up people's mailboxes that end up costing millions of dollars to produce and mail. Additionally, many of these costs are ultimately being passed onto customers of banks and credit unions," said Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., who introduced the legislation. "Not only will this legislation end the redundant mailings, but it also will make it more likely that people will pay closer attention to important mailings they receive from their financial institutions because they are receiving fewer."

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