Lawmakers attached the bill as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
July 25, 2023
Less than two months after being reintroduced in Congress, the bipartisan Credit Card Competition Act could be heading to a vote in the U.S. Senate any day now.
According to NACS, federal lawmakers could cast votes on the legislation as early as Wednesday, July 26. Following news that the vote was imminent, the convenience store association called on its members to urge their representatives to vote in favor of the bill.
The Credit Card Competition Act would mandate that retailers in many cases have the right to route payments through networks unaffiliated by the credit card providers, potentially lowering the fees they have to pay. Legislators introduced a bipartisan bill in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on June 7.
The act was introduced by U.S. Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), and U.S. Reps. Lance Gooden (R-Texas), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) and Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.).
Last summer, Durbin and Marshall introduced a nearly identical bill that was referred to the Senate Banking Committee but not voted on. The increased Republican support of the new bill is reportedly the result of legislators’ offices hearing from small businesses and other merchants.
According to NACS, Durbin and Marshall filed the Credit Card Competition Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate is expected to vote on this week. However, “the situation is very fluid, and it is not currently clear that there will be a vote,” the association noted.
Thousands of merchants from across the overall retail industry have thrown their support behind credit card swipe fee reform.
In a recent op-ed piece sent to Convenience Store News, Peter Brennan, executive director of the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association, said the Credit Card Competition Act would stop Visa and Mastercard from hurting small business operators “by reining in predatory swipe fees that are among the highest in the world.”
“Americans pay more than double what Canadians pay in credit and debit purchase fees and seven times more than consumers in Europe. The two credit card conglomerates have a duopoly in the retail industry, cashing in on extra fees that force retailers to hike prices to cover ever escalating costs,” according to Brennan.
As he noted, swipe fees paid by retailers grew 17 percent in 2022 to $160 billion, and cost families on average $1,000 per year. “These oppressive fees force retailers to increase prices as Visa and Mastercard set the rate, without any negotiation. The Credit Card Competition Act would stop these conglomerates from ‘fee-ing’ consumers and small business owners into financial despair. It would drive down the cost to merchants and lead to lower prices at the pump and in grocery and convenience stores,” Brennan said.
“Our industry is made up of small business owners, many of whom are immigrants, and more than 60 percent who are single-store operators. These are not wealthy corporations, they are our neighbors and friends and they’re being squeezed relentlessly by over-regulation and constantly escalating costs of insurance, utilities, taxes and fees,” he added. “This legislation is one simple step that Congress can take to throw these entrepreneurs and job creators a lifeline — especially as they face historic inflation — and show consumers that their hard-earned dollars matter.”