Feb. 14, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Interchange Fees Rear Their Head

Last year the coalition lobbied on a bill before the House Judiciary Committee that would have given merchants the ability to negotiate fees with banks under the guidance of the Justice Department.

The merchants also tried unsuccessfully to get the language in the House version of the credit card bill earlier this year.

Both sides have put forward their most sympathetic voices, with small mom-and-pop merchants speaking out against the fees, and community banks and credit unions arguing that they are necessary.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is likely to take up the merchants’ cause and spearhead an interchange fee amendment, according to financial services lobbyists.

Durbin introduced interchange fee legislation in the previous Congress, but it failed to make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Durbin, who unsuccessfully led the effort to include “cram down” on the bankruptcy bill last week — a provision that would allow bankruptcy judges to modify a homeowner’s mortgage terms — has verbally expressed his frustration with the financial services industry, which could fuel his desire to make sure something gets done on interchange fees this time around, lobbyists say.

“I would hope that the Senator wouldn’t use bad policy as a retribution tool,” one financial services industry lobbyist said.

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