Senate Introduces Interchange Bill

U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., yesterday introduced the Senate's version of the Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2009 (S. 1212), a bill that would allow retailers to negotiate collectively with credit-card companies and banks to set interchange fees.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., yesterday introduced the Senate's version of the Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2009 (S. 1212), a bill that would allow retailers to negotiate collectively with credit-card companies and banks to set interchange fees.

The bill is similar to a House measure with the same name (H.R. 2695) introduced last week, according to Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, Va., which is a member of the Merchants Payment Coalition, a network supporting legislative remedies to rising interchange fees.

"All retailers seek is a seat at the table to negotiate reasonable fees, much like they negotiate all other business costs in a competitive marketplace," said Jennifer Hatcher, FMI group vice president, government relations, in a prepared statement. "This [Senate] bill brings free-market forces to the setting of fees, which are now fixed in secret by the credit card companies and banks."

The bills would force arbitration by a court-appointed panel of experts if retailers and card companies cannot reach an agreement.

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