Interchange and the SAFE Banking Act Grab Washington’s Focus

While the halls of the State House are quieting down, important credit union issues are heating up in Congress.

On May 4, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on interchange fees. The hearing was titled, “Excessive Swipe Fees and Barriers to Competition in the Credit and Debit Card Systems.” A similar hearing was held back in 2006 prior to the passage of the Durbin Amendment, which set federal price caps on debit interchange fees.

Our partners at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) flagged this hearing for leagues and have launched an advocacy campaign targeted at members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Neither of Maine’s senators serve on the Judiciary Committee.

The League and Synergent are trusted and reliable resources for our allies on interchange, in large part due to the expertise and knowledge provided by Rebekah Higgins, Payment and Fraud Consultant.

“It is important that lawmakers both in Congress and in Augusta understand that interchange keeps consumers, merchants, and credit unions safe,” said Higgins. “Tweaking the delicate balance that currently exists could have major implications for both credit unions and our members.”

Another federal advocacy priority is back in the news: the SAFE Banking Act. It has been reported that there is a significant effort to tie the SAFE Banking Act to a “must-pass” bill in the U.S. Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act as a stand-alone bill and attached it to other pieces of legislation. However, the House’s efforts have not yet been adopted by the Senate, leaving the policy in legislative limbo. News reports this week indicate that the next best opportunity to see the SAFE Banking Act pass the Senate could be before the August recess.

“Interchange and the SAFE Banking Act are ongoing issues that our entire credit union movement will need to continue to be vigilant on,” said Robert Caverly, League Vice President of Governmental Affairs. “SAFE is starting to feel a lot like ‘Lucy and the football,’ but the latest reports are encouraging and we will continue to monitor the situation closely as it develops.”