On May 4, the House Financial Services Committee approved H.R. 10, the Financial CHOICE Act. The vote was strictly along party lines, 34-26. One of its provisions will repeal the harmful Durbin Amendment.
It’s possible H.R. 10 will be brought up by the House leadership and considered on the House floor next week during the OBA Convention in Norman. We know the merchants and retailer groups – mainly the “big box” stores like Target and Wal-Mart – are hammering Republicans and Democrats to support an amendment that will strip the Durbin Amendment repeal language from the bill.
The OBA has written to each member of the Oklahoma delegation asking they oppose such an amendment! We are asking you to weigh in with your Congressman and lend support to our effort to OPPOSE this amendment!
Here’s what we asked of the delegation:
Durbin is a price-fixing mechanism that was sold to Congress on the basis it would help consumers by lowering their costs. Republicans historically object to price controls of any kind, and that’s the purpose of this email.
First: The Durbin amendment has proven that the merchants’ arguments in support of this amendment in 2010 were a hoax, a “bait and switch” if you will. The so-called “savings” for consumers turned into profits for the big box stores – about $8 billion per year since 2011. The proponents of the amendment have not passed along any savings on interchange costs to their customers. They didn’t then and they won’t now.
Second, price caps historically have created a windfall for a handful of its proponents, but consumers are the ones who lose out and end up paying the bill. The fact is that Durbin has hurt the very people it was alleged to help: low- and moderate-income consumers who now have less access to banking products and services, like free checking.
Third, the idea behind Durbin is just wrong. Why not set a cap on how much Target or Wal-Mart can charge for milk and eggs, or a large flat-screen television set, or for beef or for chicken? Doing so would certainly inure to the benefit of consumers. But, it will never happen – primarily because it’s a dumb idea and everyone on Capitol Hill knows it.
So is setting caps on interchange fees, which are used to cover the costs of providing and maintaining a massive and global system that facilitates commercial growth and enables consumers to shop and buy anywhere.
Then ask the congressman directly:
Will you oppose any amendment to strip the Durbin Interchange language in H.R. 10 out of the bill? Will you please stand with bankers throughout Oklahoma and our Oklahoma Bankers Association representing our state’s $110 billion banking industry, which employs some 23,000 Oklahoma voters?
Please let us know the congressman’s position at your earliest convenience, and before this amendment is offered.
The Durbin Amendment combines so many bad elements, from thresholds to price controls and operational mandates, that the House Financial Services Committee had good reason to vote for its repeal in two consecutive bills. It is a law that exists only for the benefit of the largest retailers, and consumers – i.e., Oklahoma bank customers and your constituents – have been unfairly harmed by its negative impact on them and their families.
This is an important moment for the banking industry to speak up with one voice and let Congress know this effort is not acceptable. It must be opposed.
Call or email your Congressman, PLEASE!
Note: Rep. Bridenstine has confirmed he will oppose this amendment. Tell his banking assistant “thank you” for his position: Sheryl.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Information for the delegation:
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (202) 225-2701
Banking LA – email@example.com
Rep. Frank Lucas (202) 225-5565
Banking LA – Josh.Mathis@mail.house.gov
Rep. Tom Cole (202) 225-6165
Banking LA – Steve.Waskiewicz@mail.house.gov