Sens. Peter Welch and J.D. Vance as well as two additional House Republicans are expected to sign on
By AnnaMaria Andriotis
June 7, 2023 5:30 am ET
The new bill is expected to be introduced as soon as this week with two additional co-sponsors, Sen. Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat, and Sen. J.D. Vance, an Ohio Republican.
A nearly identical bill was introduced last summer by Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Sen. Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican. That bill was referred to the Senate Banking Committee but didn’t get voted on. Vance, who joined the Senate this year, is a junior member of the committee.
Currently, when a consumer pays with a credit card that has Visa or Mastercard listed on it, merchants generally have to route the payment through that network. The bill would mandate that merchants in many cases have the right to route payments through an unaffiliated network.
That could lower the fees that merchants have to pay.
Visa and Mastercard set and pocket network fees that merchants pay when consumers shop with cards. They also set interchange fees that merchants pay to the banks that issue credit cards.
Big banks and networks and their trade groups have lobbied against the bill. They say it would likely result in credit-card rewards programs, which are heavily funded by interchange fees, getting scaled back. Proponents of the bill say this wouldn’t occur if banks want to keep people using their credit cards.
Marshall told The Wall Street Journal last year that banks and major credit-card networks lobbied his office not to sign onto the bill. After introducing the bill, Marshall’s office was repeatedly told that no other Republicans would support it, according to people familiar with the matter.
The increased Republican support is largely the result of lawmakers’ offices hearing from small businesses and other merchants, according to people familiar with the matter
A House version of the bill is also expected to be reintroduced this week with additional Republican support. The bill last year was referred to the House Financial Services Committee but wasn’t voted on. None of the co-sponsors of the new version are on the committee.
Rep. Lance Gooden (R., Texas) who co-sponsored the original bill, will be joined by Republican Reps. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin. Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California will also be a co-sponsor.
Durbin successfully spearheaded a similar routing rule for debit cards with the Durbin amendment, which was added to the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.