Removing Swipe-Fee Limit Repeal Puts Dodd-Frank Overhaul on Autopilot

The decision to remove a repeal of debit card swipe-fee limits from the House Republican plan to overhaul the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act has, for the most part, put the measure on a fast-track to House passage once Congress returns from its recess in early June.

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee who successfully led efforts to strip the repeal from the Financial CHOICE Act, told Morning Consult on Thursday that a House vote on the measure (H.R. 10) is tentatively planned for June 9, after two days reserved for floor amendments. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not respond to requests to confirm that timeline.

Still, the path toward passage of the measure could be bumpy because of House conservatives’ objection to using procedural techniques to strip the repeal language from the bill. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) plans to offer a manager’s amendment to the measure, Hensarling spokesman Jeff Emerson confirmed on Thursday. Hensarling opposes the Durbin amendment as a policy matter. The Durbin amendment is Capitol Hill lingo for the swipe-fee limits, which were introduced in the waning days of Dodd-Frank consideration by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), a freshman member of the House Financial Services Committee, has been at the forefront of the fight to keep repeal language in the bill.

Budd circulated a draft letter to House leaders dated May 16 warning that its signatories “will not support a procedural motion that both strips the Durbin Amendment repeal language from the Financial Choice Act, and does not allow a floor vote on the policy.”

Most members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus signed Budd’s draft letter, according to HFC spokeswoman Alyssa Farah. The group doesn’t have an official position on the CHOICE Act itself, but Farah said that members “largely support Budd’s position.”

Budd never sent the letter, a signal that he has deferred to Hensarling’s decision to offer a manager’s amendment and will not resist leadership when the measure comes to the floor.

In his Capitol Hill interview with Morning Consult, Ross said that he’s expecting enough Republicans will vote for the measure now that the swipe fee repeal isn’t in play anymore. But he’s not expecting complete unanimity among Republicans.

“I think that we would not bring it up that soon had we not been able to make sure we got 218 to get it out of here,” Ross said.

The decision to strike the repeal language from the measure also represents the end of a monthslong lobbying battle between the retail and banking industries over whether the repeal should be included.

Molly Wilkinson, executive director of  Electronic Payments Coalition — a grouping of card companies that has been lobbying in favor of repeal — said in a Wednesday evening statement that the group remains “committed to repealing it.” Rob Nichols, the chief executive of the American Bankers Association, tweeted Wednesday that the group “will continue to let members know that a vote to keep Durbin on the books is a vote for government price controls and against consumers.”

But retailers and merchants who lobbied against repeal are taking a victory lap.

“The banks have lost three times now on this issue and it is over for them,” Austen Jensen, the vice president of government affairs and financial services at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in an email to Morning Consult.

Ross wasn’t as confident that the CHOICE Act represented the last chance to repeal Durbin.

“I don’t think that it will ever be settled until the courts have finally resolved it, or until we reach a consensus as to how best to address this issue,” Ross said. “I think it’s going to constantly come back and forth, but in order for it to be resolved in this chamber.”

Morning Consult