Capital Corner: High stakes card games in Washington

There’s been an uptick in activity in Washington on issues of interest to defense credit unions, particularly the evolving use of payment system technology. Key question: how are Congress and regulators going to adapt to changed consumer needs in a new financial landscape?

The ongoing battle pitting credit unions and banks against the retailer lobby heated up in March. Senator Roger Marshall (RKS), a lead proponent of the Credit Card Competition Act, attempted to attach that legislation to the government spending bill amidst the high-stakes effort on Capitol Hill to avert a government shutdown. Senate leaders turned aside the Marshall gambit late in the evening of March 21—DCUC and several leagues were heavily involved in frantic last-minute lobbying of key Senators against this 11th hour maneuver—but Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) vows to offer CCCA on every moving vehicle from now on.

Fuel was added to this fire a week later, when Visa and Mastercard agreed to a $30 billion legal settlement with the merchants on credit card transaction fees. On its face the court deal appeared to be a victory for retailers, but they immediately said the settlement didn’t go far enough and only lasts 5 years.

Later Durbin was dealt a setback, as his planned April 9 hearing in Senate Judiciary was postponed after Visa and Mastercard executives declined to testify. Durbin’s staff also cited ongoing court review of the settlement as another reason to wait.


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