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Swipe Fee Reform Tops Biggest Lobbying Victories of 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Swipe fee reform was a hard-fought battle this year by both sides of the issue, and the efforts by the retail community and the banking industry did not go unnoticed.

The retailers' eventual win in the fight to cap debit card transaction fees (also known as swipe fees and interchange fees) topped The Hill's list of the 10 biggest lobbying victories on Capitol Hill this year.

After years of pushing for reform, the retail industry saw light at the end of the tunnel in December 2010 when the Federal Reserve proposed capping those fees at 12 cents per transaction. However, that proposal only set the stage for a bruising lobbying effort -- with the retail industry facing off against big banks -- that lasted through the end of June when the Fed finally approved an amended version of that proposal, capping the fees at 21 cents plus 0.05 percent of the transaction.

The new regulations took hold Oct. 1. Though the lobbying efforts may be over, the battle continues on the legal front as the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), Miller Oil and other groups are fighting the new fees in court.

Another lobbying effort that made The Hill's list is the American Petroleum Institute (API), Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce fight to stop tighter smog standards from the Environmental Protection Agency (No. 2). President Obama decided in early September to drop the ozone regulation -- a move that shocked environmentalists and won him rare plaudits from the business community, according to the news outlet.

API also popped up six spots down on the list for its lobbying efforts with ExxonMobil and Shell to keep tax breaks for the oil and gas industry for another year (No. 6).


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