Interchange Fight Moves On From Senate

In spite of an intensive and protracted lobbying effort by the Association, CUNA, credit unions, and their memberships, as well as a wide coalition of financial services groups, the amendment to delay and study the effects of the Durbin interchange amendment fell six votes short of approval on Wednesday.

The Tester-Corker amendment was defeated by a vote of 54 to 45.

“Though we are disappointed in the outcome of the Senate vote and the fact all four Northwest senators voted against the amendment, we are committed to finding a fix for this wrong-headed interchange regulation,” said Association CEO John Annaloro. “We will work with the regulators at the Federal Reserve and NCUA to find an acceptable solution for credit unions.”

One important step will be to work with Federal Reserve, Treasury and the NCUA to make sure the exemption works. Even senators who voted against the Tester amendment, such as Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), voiced their commitment to making the two-tiered system work. Staff expects a rule from the Fed next week, and there will probably be an effort delay implementation of the Durbin rule so that credit unions have reasonable time to comply.

The fact that the vote was so close is a testament to the strong grassroots outreach from credit union staff and members. Twelve senators switched their vote from the Durbin amendment, which was originally approved by a vote of 64 to 33. Oregon and Washington sent over 10,000 contacts through the CapWiz system, with many more personal meetings and calls to the federal delegation and their staff.

This is the strongest grassroots effort seen in the Northwest, according to Association President Troy Stang.

“It’s important that our credit unions are proud of their efforts and do not lose hope in the fight,” said Stang. “We will be looking at every avenue to affect change, including turning to the courts if necessary.”

The Association undertook a strong, multipronged strategy to influence the vote. The governmental affairs staff organized the strong grassroots campaign, which reached all the way down to the credit unions’ membership. There were countless meetings over the past year, including a last minute DC fly-in by the senior governmental affairs staff. The Association was also part of the Electronics Payment Network, which targeted television and radio ads at senators in Oregon and Washington. Finally, there was a constant stream of press contacts, which resulted in editorials and op-eds in leading papers across the region—including one today in The Oregonian.

 

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.