Greater Houston Retailers Cooperative Association, Inc.

News & Events

Swipe Fee Grassroots Letter to Members

GHRA Chronicle

TO:            GHRA MEMBERS 
DATE:         May 26, 2010 
SUBJECT:    INTERCHANGE GRASSROOTS -- "The End is in Sight...But So Far Away"

Now is the time to marshal our resources for one final push to enact legislation to reform interchange "swipe fees."   As you know, on May 13 the United States Senate voted 64-33 to include Senator Richard Durbin's (D-IL) swipe fee amendment into the Financial Services Reform bill.  This legislation is now going to a joint House/Senate conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the underlying Financial bill.  Since the House version did not include the swipe fee language, the Durbin amendment is "naked" and subject to removal or changes.   Unfortunately, the majority of the conferees are from the Banking and Financial Services Committees where the banks and credit card companies have long relationships.  Indeed they are already bragging on Capitol Hill that they will be able to neuter the effectiveness of the Durbin Amendment in conference.   WE HAVE COME TOO FAR TO LET THIS HAPPEN!!! 

The House-Senate conference is expected to begin the second week of June with a final vote expected before the July 4th recess.   However, back room negotiations have begun already.  Our message is simple:  "KEEP THE DURBIN AMENDMENT -- AS PASSED BY THE SENATE -- intact in the Financial Services Reform Bill." 

Although most House Members will not be part of the conference, if they feel pressure from the banks or retailers, they will go to their leadership to deliver a message.  Leadership listens to these comments...we MUST make sure they hear overwhelmingly from retailers.  We know they are already hearing from the banks.


  1. Have all of your employees go to to send a pre-written letter to Congress.  By typing in your address, you and your employees will be able to automatically send your letter to the appropriate House and Senate Members.  Many offices are just tallying numbers of letters they receive both for and against Durbin.  Volume matters!!! 

  2. Have all of your employees call BOTH the DC and District offices of your House Members.  Again, the message is "Keep the Durbin Amendment -- as passed by the Senate -- intact in the Financial Services Reform Bill."

  3. Post this Â in all of your stores through June 7.  (VERY IMPORTANT)  Even if you did not participate in the petition campaign that has now collected 5.5 million customer signatures, please post these signs!!!

We are burning the midnight oil in DC lobbying all Members of Congress to protect the Durbin Amendment...but that will not be enough to overcome the massive banking and credit card lobby.  What YOU do over the Memorial Day recess will determine the outcome. 

FYI:  This is a brief summary of the components of the Durbin Amendment: 

Gives the U.S. Federal Reserve authority to require rates for debit transactions that are "fair and reasonable" in

  1. relationship to the actual cost to process them.

  2. Allows merchants to favor one card BRAND over another.  For example, if credit card A decided to cut their interchange rate in half, merchants could incentivize consumers to use that brand.  This will achieve our long standing goal of creating some competitive forces between card brands vis-à-vis their interchange rates.

  3. Allows merchants to set minimum purchase amounts for CREDIT transactions.  You still won't be able to set minimums for debit transactions, but if the Fed does its job per bullet #1, that won't matter. 


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