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IWSJI notes interchange fights progress CU lobbying efforts
MADISON, Wis. (3/24/11)--In an article about the financial services industry’s progress in delaying interchange legislation, The Wall Street Journal made note of the 4,000 credit union representatives that lobbied their lawmakers while in Washington to the attend the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA)Governmental Affairs Conference Feb. 27-March 3. The article, which appeared online in the March 23 print edition of The Wall Street Journal, outlined the balance-sheet challenges financial institutions would face if the Durbin Amendment were to take effect as scheduled in July. Credit unions and community banks are concerned they will have to lower their fees to match the 12-cent cap imposed on large institutions under the Durbin Amendment, which, in turn, would force them to eliminate free checking or add other fees to make up for lost revenue. However, credit unions and banks have “bombarded” lawmakers with virtually every type of communication, including face-to-face meetings with those in Washington for CUNA’s GAC, according The Wall Street Journal. “Around 4,000 credit-union employees descended on lawmakers’ Washington offices a few weeks ago while in town for meetings of their trade group, the Credit Union National Association,” the article noted. “The debit-fee rule was among their top issues, and now that the two bills have been introduced, they are urging support for them from their representatives, said CUNA [vice president of communications and media] Pat Keefe,” the article added. The story also noted that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair have expressed reservations that echo those of the financial services industry. Also, the financial services industry has received support for its views from groups as diverse as the National Education Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Legislation that would delay the implementation of the interchange fee cap was introduced in the Senate and House on Tuesday. The two bills would also order regulators to study the impact that the proposed interchange rules would have on credit unions, small issuers, consumers and merchants. CUNA supports the legislation. CUNA has encouraged credit unions nationwide to contact their federal lawmakers, at home this week for a District Work Period, and ask them to “stop, study and start over” on interchange legislation.
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