New legislative amendment seeks to kill swipe-fee reforms

WASHINGTON — Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., have offered an amendment to legislation that is designed to delay swipe-fee reforms.

The amendment, proposed this week, looks to "improve the regulatory structure for electronic debit card transactions and for other purposes" and would delay swipe-fee reform — which is slated to go into effect July 21 by the Federal Reserve — by 12 months. Tester previously introduced the Debit Interchange Fee Study Act of 2011, which would postpone swipe-fee reductions included in last year’s Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act by two years.

The amendment was met with opposition from several lobbying groups, including the Food Marketing Institute, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Retail Federation.

Jennifer Hatcher, FMI's SVP government relations, said the amendment is "masked as a delay bill" and "was developed for big banks, by big banks."

"The Tester-Corker language removes any guarantee that Main Street America will ever see relief from rising debit card swipe fees, and we hope our U.S. senators will recognize this when the Tester-Corker amendment vote is called," Hatcher said.

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said the "pro-retailer, pro-consumer swipe-fee reform" is a top priority for the retail community and urged NACDS members and consumers to notify the Senate of their opposition to the proposal.

The NRF, which has campaigned for the preservation of swipe-fee reform for the past two months, expressed its concern over the amendment in a letter to Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

"This bill is no compromise," NRF SVP government relations David French wrote. "It is a sham intended to kill swipe-fee reform even more quickly than [Tester's] original bill and should be seen for what it is."

The Senate is set to vote on the legislation Wednesday.

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