GOP Differences Evident in Proposed Repeal of Debit Card Swipe Fee Limits

A Wednesday hearing on the House GOP’s plan to replace the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act revealed some disagreement among Republicans over the bill’s proposal to repeal limitations on debit card swipe fee limits.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) rolled out his latest proposal to overhaul financial regulations established in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis at a hearing promoted by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The meeting was the first time panel members had a chance to publicly scrutinize the legislation.

The hearing pulled the curtain back to reveal some intra-GOP division on debit card swipe fee reforms that would be repealed under the legislation known as the Financial CHOICE Act. Rep. Dennis Ross (Fla.), who voted in favor of the version of the CHOICE Act introduced by Hensarling last year, said he has “concerns” about the proposed repeal.

“I’ve heard directly from a broad spectrum of the retail community in my district, and even from my manager at Publix Supermarkets in my hometown where I shop, about the need to maintain debit reform,” Ross said. He entered into the committee’s record a letter from groups including the National Retail Federation, which is lobbying against repeal.

Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) criticized the limitations, which he likened to food price controls instituted by the Venezuelan government.

Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine, the lone Republican on the panel who voted against the CHOICE Act at a markup last year, avoided criticizing the new legislation and signaled that he’s satisfied with its current form, saying it “ends the requirement for taxpayers to bail out big Wall Street banks.”

Hensarling’s bill is unlikely to receive any Democratic support.

Moderate Democrats like Reps. John Delaney (Md.) and Brad Sherman (Calif.) said that while the latest version contains elements that could attract some Democratic support, other provisions make it impossible for them to support the legislation.

Sherman said at the hearing that the bill “gives members no choice” because it forces Democrats to vote against provisions they would support if they weren’t lumped in with issues like an overhaul of the CFPB.

“Please break up this bill,” Sherman said.

Democrats also said Republicans are rushing the process by holding only one hearing on the measure. Ranking member Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) announced midway through Wednesday’s hearing that Democrats plan to hold their own their own hearing before a legislative markup that’s likely to take place next week.

In large part, committee members otherwise steered clear of addressing the merits of the legislation. Instead, they discussed the efforts to repeal Dodd-Frank through the lens of the 2008 financial crisis, and whether Dodd-Frank was successful in addressing its causes. In other cases, lawmakers discussed the effectiveness of the CFPB and Dodd-Frank’s bank wind-down mechanism known as orderly liquidation authority.

Following the hearing, Hensarling said in a brief interview that he has spoken with the House GOP leadership about floor consideration for the measure, which he expects to happen “fairly soon.” He declined to provide further details on timing.

Morning Consult