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CUNA Lawmaker letter crucial to interchange fight
WASHINGTON (6/14/10)—In a effort coordinated by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), a bi-partisan list of 105 U.S. House members have signed on, as of late Friday, in support of an effort to urge financial regulatory reform conference committee members not to include language on interchange fees in the final legislative package. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica immediately commended the effort: “This letter will be crucial in building momentum among lawmakers to remove interchange from the bill. Credit unions are gravely concerned about the consequences of the interchange language, particularly its impact on their members who will face higher fees if it becomes law. “We will continue to press our concerns on Congress about the interchange language, as we did this week with 1,000 credit union activists on the Hill, and continuing contacts with Congress by credit unions nationwide – now at more than 450,000 since May 24.’ At issue is a late-added provision found in the Senate version of the reg reform bill that would ask the government to control interchange fees. The House version contains no interchange language. The House letter to conferees says, “This language will devastate credit unions and community banks, while providing no discernable benefits for consumers.” It underscores other concerns regarding the interchange language, and in part cites numerous articles in the national press that have “highlighted the potential unintended consequences of the interchange amendment, particularly its negative impact on consumers.” An additional concern of those 85 who signed the letter is the lack of transparency regarding the process by which the language was added to the Senate bill. “(W)e also have strong reservations about the lack of congressional review, debate or study about these provisions. The debit rate-setting provision has never been vetted by any committee in either chamber. “Furthermore, the recently completed (Government Accountability Office) report was almost exclusively dedicated to the impact of related interchange legislation on the credit card market, not the debit card market. Yet that study still concluded that ‘the costs of [credit] card acceptance might shift from merchants to card holders if interchange fees were limited.’” “We believe the GAO’s conclusion raises similar concerns about the impact of these changes on consumers of debit cards,” the coalition of lawmakers wrote. Credit union advocates in town this week for CUNA’s national grassroots campaign, launched to oppose the interchange amendment, supported the Wasserman-Schultz-Marchant effort and urged their lawmakers to sign on in support of the letter. CUNA asks credit unions to continue contact with lawmakers and request that they sign on to the Wasserman Schultz-Martchant letter by the close-of-business-Tuesday deadline.


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