Small Biz Owners Gather at Capitol to Thank Legislators for Swipe Fee Vote

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Small Biz Owners Gather at Capitol to Thank Legislators for Swipe Fee Vote

By Melissa Kress, Convenience Store News - 06/09/2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Less than 24 hours after the U.S. Senate failed to adopt an amendment that would have put swipe fee reform on hold, more than 50 small business owners were descending on Capitol Hill to thank those legislators who voted down the measure.

The members of Reform Swipe Fees NOW! expected to gather in front of the U.S. Capitol this morning to applaud Congress for standing with consumers and Main Street's small business owners as the banking industry pushed for the Tester-Corker Amendment. That bill, which failed to receive the necessary 60 votes in a 54-45 vote Wednesday afternoon, would have delayed the Federal Reserve's proposed cap on debit card transactions for at least six months. The delay was intended to give regulators more time to study the issue.

"On behalf of the business owners and consumers across the country that have suffered unfairly as a result of excessive swipe fees, I applaud Congress for standing up for the hard-working people on Main Street that will now see the benefits of common sense reform. Congress made the right choice here," said Dennis Lane, a 7-Eleven franchisee and national spokesman for Reform Swipe Fees NOW! He was to be joined in the nation's capital by Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).

However, as in any battle, not everyone is happy with the outcome. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who first introduced legislation to delay the new rules in March, has said all along that his measure was to safeguard community banks and credit unions, not big banks as some of his opponents have argued.

"Despite earning a majority of votes, the Senate today missed an opportunity to stand up for consumers, small businesses and community banks in rural America. I fought for this measure because it puts the brakes on consolidation in the financial industry, which has hurt Montana. And it helps keep small businesses and community banks from getting wiped out by powerful big-box retailers. I know that because I've actually done my homework on this issue, talking with Montanans across the state about what's best for all of us, instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting for the wind to blow," said in a statement after the vote.

"This measure earned broad support from both sides of the aisle because it was a bill written by Main Street rural America. Despite falling short of 60 votes today, our fight for rural America marches on. I'll always remain on the side of rural America," he added.

The Electronic Payments Coalition is also bracing for the intended consequences it fears will come as a result of swipe fee caps. "It is stunning that the Senate chose to ignore every major banking regulator who warned that this rule could harm community banks and credit unions -- and possibly even result in bank failures at a time when our country can least afford it," said Trish Wexler, spokesperson for the Electronic Payments Coalition. "Giant retailers may have protected their $12-billion windfall at the expense of small businesses and debit cardholders across America. But we will not give up the effort to protect debit card holders from the effects of this ill-conceived legislation."