"Swipe-fee" relief avoids delay in Senate

Retail associations are celebrating the defeat of a measure that would have delayed new rules governing "swipe fees" for certain card transactions at the retail point of sale.

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association was among those applauding the defeat of a proposal by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R.-Tenn.).

"Out-of-control swipe fees on transactions have been yet another cost burden on building material dealers who are struggling to remain afloat in this housing recession," said Scott Lynch, NLBMDA executive VP. "We are pleased that the Senate wisely chose not to further delay this much-needed relief."

The Food Marketing Institute's senior VP government relations, Jennifer Hatcher, called the delay proposal a move that would have been bad for business. "The Tester-Corker language [would have removed] any guarantee that Main Street America will ever see relief from rising debit card swipe fees, and we hope our U.S. senators will recognize this when the Tester-Corker amendment vote is called," Hatcher said. The amendment, which would have delayed new swipe-fee rules by 12 months, was defeated by a vote of 54-45, with a 60-vote super majority needed for passage

As it stands, more retailer-friendly swipe-fee rules will go into effect July 21. The Federal Reserve Board plans to limit fees to 2% of the transaction for small banks and financial institutions, and a flat 12-cent cap for the largest banks. The NLBMDA said it supports the new rules, describing them "as an important move to reign in costs for building material dealers and other retailers."

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