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Narrow interchange hearing set for this afternoon
WASHINGTON (6/16/10)—Although debate on the interchange legislation contained in the Senate’s financial regulatory reform package will not occur in earnest until next week, interchange will be discussed later today during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing entitled “Oversight of Federal Payment of Interchange Fees: How to Save Taxpayer Dollars.” The hearing, which will take place at 2:30 this afternoon, will feature testimony from the U.S. Treasury’s Gary Grippo, the Government Accountability Office’s Alicia Puente Cackley, and Amtrak’s Janet Langenderfer. A second panel will include testimony from both financial and mercantile representatives, as well as the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The hearing will be chaired by Financial Services and General Government subcommittee chairman Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) who introduced the interchange legislation that is in the Senate version of regulatory reform. The House version of the bill does not contain any interchange-related language. The hearing follows the Monday release of a U.S. Treasury report which found that the federal government would save taxpayer funds by negotiating future interchange charges with card networks. The Electronic Payment Coalition, which counts the Credit Union National Association among it's members, has said that this study proves that broad-based regulations to limit interchange fees are not needed. The Senate bill’s interchange language would allow the government to control interchange fees. Durbin has written in a carve out that would exempt financial institutions with under $10 billion in assets from the terms of the interchange legislation, but the Credit Union National Association has repeatedly said that that carve out would not be meaningful because there is no requirement for the payment card networks to operate a higher rate system for small issuers. Hundreds of credit union representatives from across the country came to Washington last week to voice their opposition to the interchange changes, and over half a million credit union backers have done the same through phone calls or electronic messages to their elected representatives.

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