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WASHINGTON — In what has shaped up to be a classic Washington legislative battle, House and Senate conferees working on this year’s defense authorization bill are wrestling as of press time over whether to cap the interest rates payday lenders can charge military members at 36%.

The effort has been on the back burner for several years, but the combination of an election year and a push from the Defense Department to put the cap into place has moved the restriction to the front burner and thrown the payday lending industry into a legislative goal-line stand.

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