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Swipe Fees Battle May Move to States

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Unless Congress intervenes, the new national limits on transaction fees are scheduled to go into effect July 21.

The Senate could vote as soon as Wednesday on a measure introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) that would delay implementation of the fee limits by 15 months. The provision is likely to come up as a rider on one of two noncontroversial bills, according to industry lobbyists. And with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle supporting the delay, the outcome is still very much up for grabs. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Durbin oppose the delay, but Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the chamber's No. 3 Democrat, supports it.

In anticipation of that vote, shopkeepers and bankers of all sizes are blanketing Capitol Hill, while the coalitions representing them run advertisements targeting Senators seeking respite in their home states.

The Electronic Payments Coalition, which represents the nation's largest financial institutions as well as community banks and credit unions, is running television, radio and Internet advertisements in 15 states. The National Retail Federation launched radio spots in Alaska, New Hampshire and West Virginia as well as six other states this week as part of a $1 million campaign to defend the new limits.

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