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Mica urges CUs Keep pushing on interchange
WASHINGTON (6/16/10)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica Tuesday urged credit union leaders to keep up the drive against interchange limits, particularly in the face of this week’s massive push by merchants to convince lawmakers to impose controls on the fees paid to use the electronic payments network. Mica said on a national call to credit union league presidents that
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credit unions still face an uphill battle to convince lawmakers to remove interchange limits from a final financial regulatory reform package, which is currently being hammered out in Congress. But despite the enormity of the challenge, Mica said, credit unions have gotten further on the issue than may have been considered possible just a few weeks earlier. Last week, hundreds of credit union advocates came to Washington, D.C., to urge lawmakers to contact the House-Senate conferees and urge them to remove interchange language form the regulatory reform legislation. In addition, about 525,000 contacts were made via email and phone calls. The interchange provisions as written would hurt consumers by driving up debit card fees, with no compensatory advantages to consumers, the credit union representatives told lawmakers. The credit union reps also urged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to sign a letter being circulated by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) that calls on conferees to strip the interchange language from the bill. More than 120 House members have signed on in support of the letter after the credit unions visits. In the midst of this week’s merchants’ fly-in, there is also a
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battle-of-the-ads running in Capitol Hill publication. The minority bankers group, the National Bankers Association, warns in an ad that the interchange amendment would hurt “low-income consumers” the most. An ad sponsored by America’s Credit Unions states, “92 Million Credit Union Members Say No to a Fee on Their Debit Card.” And another, backed by the California Credit Union League, California Independent Bankers, the Texas Credit Union League, IBAT, and the Nevada Credit Union League, says, “Giant retailers want you to pay their cost of doing business.” On the other side of the debate, one ad with a "if it quacks like a duck" theme urges Congress to tax credit unions for opposing the interchange amendment, saying if credit unions want to take the same position as the banks they should be taxed like banks. The ad is sponsored by a group calling itself American Family Voices--and yesterday the group began faxing the ad to credit unions. "Faxes to CUs? That tactic is ridiculous and will only get our members even more fired up at the grassroots level to oppose the interchange amendment," Mica noted. Another such ad, one by the National Association of Convenience Stores, urges lawmakers to accept the interchange amendment and attempts to draw a connection to “big bank bailouts” in the interchange discussion. Informally calling the latest call to action “Operation Push Back,” CUNA’s Mica again urged credit union advocates to re-double efforts to gain lawmaker support in removing interchange language from the bill, even if only to give it a full vetting under the congressional hearing process. The amendment was added late in the Senate’s debate of its reform package through the amendment process. Mica encouraged credit union advocates to go out of their ways to thank federal lawmakers who have already signed on to the Wasserman Schultz-Marchant letter. It is expected that the House-Senate conferees may vote on the interchange amendment next Tuesday.


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