Calling it a "special case situation," Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin said he would work to find a way to exempt state government-issued debit cards used to distribute benefits from his amendments to give the Federal Reserve the power to regulate interchange fees.
Durbin, who made the announcement at a hearing at which he unveiled a report indicating considerable savings to the federal government if it were allowed to negotiate interchange fees, has been pushing to keep his amendment in the legislation being negotiated by House-Senate conferees. It is currently in the Senate version but not the House bill.
Durbin is fighting for his amendment at a time when banks and credit unions have been mounting an extensive lobbying effort to remove it from the final bill. A bipartisan group of 131 House members (out of a total of 433 members) signed a "dear colleague," letter asking conferees to remove the amendment.
CUNA and NAFCU lobbied lawmakers to sign the letter.
The conference committee is scheduled to discuss the interchange issue next week.
The conference committee today is debating language that would add to the chairman of the NCUA to the Financial Stability Oversight Council. That panel would have the power to determine what problems at financial institutions constitute a systemic risk and can also hear appeals of decisions made by the new consumer financial protection regulator.