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Washington
Financial Services seeks interchange jurisdiction
WASHINGTON (9/15/08)--U.S. Rep. Barney Frank has asked House leadership to ensure that the financial services panel, which he chairs, has a role in deciding credit and debit card interchange fee issues that were voted this summer by the House Judiciary Committee. In a Sept. 12 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Frank stated his case that Judiciary should not claim exclusive jurisdiction over a bill that makes decisions regarding the regulation of financial institutions, which fall under his committee’s purview. Specifically the Massachusetts Democrat addressed H.R. 5546, the Credit Card Fair Fee Act, which was approved by a narrow margin in July by Judiciary. In his letter, Frank said wrote, “As this bill addresses a number of complex issues regarding banks, banking, extension of credit, operation of credit networks and the pricing of credit, the committee with subject matter expertise over these issues should have the opportunity to consider the bill, at least on a sequential basis.” “This request is great news for credit unions,” said Michele Johnson, director of legislative affairs for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Friday. CUNA has strenuously worked against H.R. 5546, which would permit government intervention in setting the fees charged merchants each time a consumer uses the card for a purchase. “We believe that interchange at its core is a financial services issue. Until now, merchants have had success positioning this as a commerce issue. Now, if Chairman Frank’s request is honored as it should be, this issue can move before the panel that has the deep understanding of what this bill would mean to credit unions and banks,” Johnson said. Johnson also predicted that Frank’s request will preclude any further consideration of H.R. 5546 this session of Congress. “Into 2009, it is an indication that the Committee on Financial Services will be fully engaged in the issue,” she said.


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