Federal Legislative Week in Review

Beginning today in Oregon, you may see or hear television and radio ads asking Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to support the Senate Interchange bill, S. 575.  These ads are part of the overall grassroots strategy targeted at senators across the country in preparation for a vote on the bill in the coming weeks.  Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was the target of similar radio ads in Washington earlier this month.  We are partnering with the Electronics Payment Coalition in supporting these targeted efforts. 

The radio ad can be found here with the appropriate senator/state.  The TV ad will be a modified version of Domino Effect ad (here).  The last sentence will change to: “Contact your member of Congress to fix this bad debit card rule.”

Please see below for the latest Call to Action, which was sent out on Friday.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised us a vote on the Tester interchange bill.  With the retailers engaged in a 60-day grassroots campaign including a DC fly-in next week, we absolutely cannot back down on our communication with our Senators.


Call to Action
THANK YOU for all you’ve done to help make the interchange issue “radioactive” on Capitol Hill.  There is not a member of Congress who isn’t keenly aware of the issue or an event on the Hill where interchange isn’t being talked about.  With less than 2 months to the final rule implementation deadline, things are heating up.  Last week, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) proposed amending his legislation to change the delay of the interchange rule from 2 years to 15 months. The industry supports this change as any delay would be helpful in getting an interchange rule that will be more rational and beneficial to credit unions. It also coincides more closely with the House legislation, which includes a 12-month delay.  Shortly after Senator Tester’s announcement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced his intention to schedule a vote on Senator Tester’s legislation sometime after next week’s congressional Memorial Day recess.  A formal date has not been scheduled, but we will let you know as soon as that happens and will need your help in the final grassroots push to our Senators. 

The National Retail Federation (NRF) announced the kickoff of the “60 Day Swipe Fee Reform” campaign. We believe this is the NRF’s response to our strong grassroots efforts to delay the rule and their sole purpose will be to thwart every argument we’ve made. The NRF is one of the largest groups that makes up the merchants’ coalition, and the focus of the campaign will be on turning out an intense grassroots effort among retailers, in particular chain restaurants nationwide. They also announced a national fly-in, which will take place in June, coupled with a nationwide media relations campaign.

On Tuesday, May 31, you will begin seeing and hearing TV and radio ads asking Oregonians to call Senator Merkley (D-OR) and ask him to support Senator Tester’s bill (S. 575).  While all 4 Northwest Senators are critical targets, the Electronics Payment Coalition, which is made up of credit unions, banks and payment card networks, has made Senator Merkley a target for ads.  You will hear NWCUA listed as a supporter on these ads.


1. Write yet another letter or email to both your Senators.  Click here to use the grassroots action center . In an effort to personalize and change up our messaging, we encourage you to give a real life example of how your credit union and your members have been impacted by fraud, having to reissue cards, etc.  Here is sample language you may want to use in your letter referencing the recent Michael’s data breach that affected stores in both Oregon and Washington –

“This recent Michael’s data breach has cost my members—your constituents—$__________, and that cost has to be passed on to them.  The retailers, sometimes negligent, take on none of the risk and pay nothing.  Please stop, study and start over on interchange.”

2. Attend a town hall the week of May 30th and talk to our Senators in person about this issue.  Click here for a list of the town halls that have been announced for next week. 

3. Leave a comment on a Senator’s facebook page regarding interchange.  This is another avenue to get their attention and unlike an email, is shared with everyone who follows them on facebook.   In order to comment on any of the facebook pages, you have to “like” them first.  (Senator Cantwell does not have a facebook page that allows comments.)

4. Put information on your website educating your members about this issue and ask them to contact their Senators.  See here for a great example of how North Coast Credit Union is educating their members.


Questions about the interchange issue? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Affairs team:

Jennifer Wagner, Director of Legislative Advocacy
Mark Minickiello, Vice President, Legislative Affairs
Stacy Augustine, Senior Vice President & General Counsel

Posted in Advocacy News, Federal.