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Financial Reform Legislation Moves to Full House

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Financial CHOICE Act is on the move.

The House Financial Services Committee voted 34-26 in favor of the proposed legislation, bringing the measure to the full House of Representatives.

The legislation aims to replace the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and would effectively repeal debit card swipe fee reform. The reform includes swipe fee caps that have been in place since October 2011.

"The Financial CHOICE Act ends bailouts so Washington can never again pick taxpayers' pockets and hand the money over to big banks. With the Financial CHOICE Act, the era of big bank bailouts and 'too big to fail' will be over. There will be bankruptcy for failed banks, not bailouts. And banks that qualify for much-needed regulatory relief will be so well-capitalized that they pose no threat to taxpayers or the economy," said U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

Hensarling, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, introduced the legislation.

"Our plan replaces Dodd-Frank's growth-strangling regulations on small banks and credit unions with reforms that expand access to capital so small businesses on Main Street can grow and create jobs," he said.

Despite the committee, retailers vow to continue to fight attempts to repeal swipe fee reform.

"As long as H.R. 10 includes a repeal of debit swipe fee reform, NACS urges the House of Representatives to reject it," said Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president of government relations for NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. 

"Debit reform has saved consumers and Main Street businesses $40 billion already. It makes no sense for the House to even consider a bill that would take away these pro-competitive, successful reforms," he added.
The committee vote fell along party lines. According to Beckwith, all of the Democrats present on the Financial Services Committee opposed the bill, but it was still reported. 

"As long as debit reform repeal is part of the bill, NACS will do all it can to oppose H.R. 10," said Beckwith. "We look forward to the entire House of Representatives having the opportunity to vote to take debit reform repeal out of the bill and ensure that consumers and Main Street can continue to enjoy the benefits of a more competitive debit market without returning to price-fixed fees."

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) took a similar stance.

"While we believe in financial reforms that make sense for America's community banks and local credit unions, the repeal of hard-fought debit swipe fee reform included in the CHOICE Act gives big banks and card networks a green light to raise costs on every business in America that accepts debit cards," said Austen Jensen, vice president of government affairs and financial services for RILA.

The association asked the House of Representatives to remove any repeal of swipe fee reform from the Financial CHOICE Act.

"Repealing swipe fee reform is a $1-billion bailout for banks that are already generating record profits and passing out record bonuses. It's a poison pill for any bipartisan effort to enact meaningful financial reform, splitting the business community and members of Congress alike," Jensen said.

"We urge the full House to strip this provision from the CHOICE Act and focus on a bill that protects both community banks and local businesses. Financial reform will be a bust for the average American if Congress fixates on giving big banks back their license to fleece," he added.  

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