credit cards

Amendments slow card reform

Friday, May 15
Posted 11 a.m.

Bankrate reporter Leslie McFadden contributed this entry.

This week, the Senate weighed a host of amendments to a credit card bill that would curb abusive industry practices. The House passed similar legislation on April 30, 357-70. If the Senate approves the bill, a committee would then hammer out the differences between the two versions before sending it to President Barack Obama, who asked Congress to pass a bill by Memorial Day and stumped for credit card reform at a town hall-style meeting on Thursday in Rio Rancho, N.M.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., author of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, expressed frustration yesterday with the pile of amendments slowing down a final vote on the bill. "At some point, we need to get moving and get this done," he said. He said there were some 30 to 40 amendments.

Here is a look at some of the amendment activity in the Senate this week:

  • An unrelated amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to allow loaded, concealed firearms in national parks passed Tuesday, 67-29.
  • An amendment from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to cap interest rates at 15 percent was killed Wednesday. If that provision took effect, low-income people might not be able to obtain credit cards, said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.
  • Another amendment from Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., would cap interest rates at 36 percent.
  • A proposal by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to require identity verification with physical documents before issuing credit cards was defeated Wednesday. The measure was meant to prevent illegal immigrants from getting credit cards.
  • Several senators sponsored an amendment to extend the bill's coverage beyond individuals to holders of small-business cards.
  • Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., promoted his amendment pertaining to gift cards. It would require that gift cards not expire for five years and ban the application of any fees for the first year after issuance. It would also allow the Federal Reserve Board to cap fees and set a minimum balance below which fees couldn't be charged.
  • One amendment would allow merchants to offer discounts for customers using cash, checks or debit cards over credit cards. It did not call for a surcharge on credit cards.

What do you think of these amendments? E-mail Plastic_Rap@Bankrate.com.

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