Debit Swipe Fee Reform Showdown Begins on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Debit swipe fee reform is heading back to Capitol Hill.

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the Financial CHOICE Act, a proposal that could, in part, repeal debit swipe fee reform that has been in place since October 2011.

The hearing comes one week after House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) released text for his Financial CHOICE Act, which includes a full repeal of debit swipe fee reform. Passing his CHOICE Act is Hensarling's top priority this year, according to NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

The Financial CHOICE Act would replace the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which included swipe fee reform in the Durbin Amendment. 

As the issue moves back to the federal agenda, NACS is urging its members to speak up against any attempt to change the hard-fought reform.

"It is likely the legislation could be considered on the House floor as early as mid-May, which is why it's imperative that your representative hear from you today. Lawmakers need to hear directly from employers, employees, and consumers in their districts about why debit reform must be protected and what it will mean for them if Congress repeals it," said Anna Ready, director of government relations at NACS.

"It will mean $8 billion per year taken away from consumers and Main Street businesses and given to the largest banks," she said.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the House Financial Services Committee will hear from a five-member panel of think tank representatives at the hearing; no retailer was invited to participate in the hearing.

However, on that day dozens of retailers organized by NRF and the Merchants Payments Coalition will be in Washington, D.C., to lobby against repeal of the reforms. NRF will also submit written testimony, and is also running digital ads and circulating petitions that urge Congress to preserve debit card reform.

Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the namesake sponsor of debit swipe fee reform in the U.S. Senate, and U.S. Rep. Welch (D-Vt.), the measure's chief backer in the House, are scheduled to speak before retailers Wednesday morning, according to NRF.

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