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CUs use Congress break to keep up interchange drive
WASHINGTON (4/29/11)—With the July 21 final interchange fee cap implementation date drawing near, credit union advocates nationwide continued to use this week’s congressional district work period to reach out to their representatives and urge them to stop, study and start over on interchange. The Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Delaware, Minnesota and Missouri leagues were among those reporting significant interaction with their legislators on the interchange issue during individual meetings and community town halls, and credit union members nationwide have spoken out against the interchange fee cap at their local events. The Ohio Credit Union League said that over 10,000 credit union members in that state have signed a petition urging Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to support Senate interchange delay legislation pending action in the U.S. Congress. League representatives have also met with Brown in recent days. Leagues nationwide have also worked with local news outlets to publish editorials backing the interchange delay. The California and Nevada Leagues grassroots efforts have resulted in over 52,000 letters to Congress as of April 27, and the league told News Now that more are expected. Credit unions in those states are also engaging their members directly to aid the anti-interchange cap fight. The Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) own grassroots communications efforts, many of which have been made via CapWiz, have resulted in nearly 185,000 congressional contacts. CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs John Magill said that credit union backers must work to ensure that the momentum that interchange implementation delay legislation has gained in recent weeks can continue when Congress returns to session next week. Magill added that it is “important that credit unions not ease up” in the critical period between now and the proposed July 21 interchange fee cap implementation date. The timeline for action is tighter than one might think, with a number of holidays and constituent work weeks planned between now and the end of July, Magill added. The proposed interchange rule would lower the maximum fee charged per debit card transaction to 12 cents, or lower. The statute, as enacted, would exempt credit unions and other small institutions with assets of $10 billion and under from the terms of the regulations. The effectiveness of the proposed exemption has been hotly debated, and many analysts agree that the statutory exemption will not work as intended. Separate House and Senate bills would delay implementation of the new interchange rules and would order a study of the impact a debit card interchange fee cap would have on consumers, financial institutions, and merchants. In the House, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's (R-W.V.) H.R. 1081 has 84 cosponsors. The Senate version of interchange delay legislation (S. 575), introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), has 16 co-sponsors. For more on CUNA’s interchange delay efforts, use the resource link.
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