Retailers Welcome Decision to Drop Durbin Repeal

Removal of language repealing the amendment seen as a win

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Convenience-store and other retail associations are calling the House’s decision to keep the Durbin Amendment intact a major legislative victory.

Republican House leadership decided May 24 to drop language from the Financial CHOICE Act that would have repealed the Durbin Amendment. The Financial CHOICE Act seeks to undo many regulations enacted under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. The Durbin Amendment places a cap on how much credit-card companies can charge for swipe or interchange fees.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the congressman who introduced the bill, plans to offer a manager’s amendment to remove the provision repealing the Durbin Amendment from the bill. House leaders found that the provision repealing Durbin was jeopardizing passage of the Financial CHOICE Act, according to Politico. The House is expected to vote on the Financial CHOICE Act after it returns from its Memorial Day recess in June.

The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) celebrated the legislative news on its website but urged members to continue lobbying Congress until the amendment has been officially stripped from the bill. “The announcement from the House Financial Services Committee is welcomed by NACS and the retail industry," it said. "We look forward to seeing the official language in the manager’s amendment and encourage members to continue to voice support for the debit reforms to your representatives until it is officially removed.”

The National Retail Federation (NRF) also painted the decision as a win and said it would follow the bill’s progress to ensure that the House follows through with its plan to drop the Durbin repeal. “This is a major victory for the consumers who have saved billions of dollars under swipe-fee reform and for the communities where retailers have used swipe savings to improve customer service, create jobs and boost the local economy,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said.

"Preservation of swipe-fee reform is an important victory for retailers and consumers who would have faced higher fees from the country's largest banks with every swipe of a debit card," said Austen Jensen, vice president of government affairs and financial services for the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

The National Grocers Association said, “This is truly a victory for Main Street merchants over Wall Street banks and should send a strong message that debit reforms are here to stay.”

Petroleum, restaurant and other associations also recognized the news as a win.

The Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA) said, “PMAA would like to thank everyone who has sent a letter or email, or who has talked with their representatives about the importance of the Durbin language over the past year. In particular, we thank all attendees for their work last week to educate lawmakers on the benefits of debit-card fee reform. The visits definitely contributed to this decision to strip the repeal language.”

Cicely Simson, executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association, wrote, “We welcome today's news that Congress is listening to the needs of small businesses. We urge Congress to keep these protections in place on behalf of Main Street businesses across the country."

Hensarling seemed resigned to remove the repeal of the Durbin Amendment from the bill in a statement Wednesday. “I believe it belongs in the Financial CHOICE Act, but I recognize and respect that many members of Congress feel differently. We won’t let this one provision hinder passage of an important priority bill that will end bank bailouts and help renew healthy economic growth for all Americans.”

The House’s decision likely marks the end of the fight over debit swipe fees, Politico reported, but the American Bankers Association (ABA) does not appear to be giving up on the issue. “We will continue to let members know that a vote to keep the Durbin Amendment on the books is a vote for government price controls and against consumers,” said Rob Nichols, CEO of the ABA.

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