WASHINGTON -- If credit unions hope to kill the provisions to further regulate interchange fees in the financial regulation bill they will have to do it with the administration sitting on the sidelines.
"We frankly haven't taken a formal position on it," Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Institutions Michael Barr told reporters at a briefing today.
He didn't say if the administration would weigh in on the provisions, which were not part of the administration's original proposal, later on in the process.
CUNA and NAFCU are lobbying hard, and waging grass roots efforts, to kill the amendment, which was included in the bill passed by the Senate last week but wasn't in the bill that the House passed last December.
The amendment authorizes the Federal Reserve to ensure that debit card fees are "reasonable and proportional," in relation to processing costs. It excludes credit unions and community banks with assets of less than $10 billion. It also allows merchants to set a minimum or maximum amount for each transaction and let them offer additional discounts for using a certain type of card or cash.
In response to a question from Credit Union Times, Barr said the Obama administration doesn't have a preference if the new agency to regulate consumer financial products is an independent entity as spelled out in the House bill or is housed in the Federal Reserve, as spelled out in the Senate bill.
"Both versions are paths to real, meaningful independence," he said.
Yesterday the Senate named its representatives to the conference committee that will reconcile the two chambers' versions of the measure. The House isn't expected to name its conferees until after the Memorial Day recess.