Retailers Win Debit-Card Fee Vote in Senate

WASHINGTON — Retail groups applauded a Senate vote Wednesday that prevented a proposed delay in implementing debit-card fee reform.

WASHINGTON — Retail groups applauded a Senate vote Wednesday that prevented a proposed delay in implementing debit-card fee reform.

"FMI applauds the 45 senators who voted to support their neighborhood grocery stores and their customers today," said Leslie G. Sarasin [2], president and chief executive officer of Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, Va.

The so-called Tester Amendment, proposed by Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would have delayed the implementation of new debit-card rules for months, and, some reports said, effectively killed the effort, which was part of last year's massive financial reform package. A 60-vote majority was required to move the amendment forward.

The Federal Reserve, which in December had unanimously voted in favor of a rule capping debit-card interchange fees at no more than 12 cents per transaction, can now proceed with finalizing that rule. A deadline of July 21 had been set for issuing the final rules.

Peter Larkin [3], president and CEO of the National Grocers Association, said "independent grocers, small business and consumers won another important victory today" and noted that NGA will continue to work with the Federal Reserve as it finalizes the rules.

"Congress came to the right conclusion last year — hidden swipe fees charged by big banks have driven up prices far too much for far too long," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. "America's retail merchants commend the Senate for standing by last year's vote and for voting on the side of American consumers."