Push to Expedite Credit Card Reforms Gains Momentum
Democrats on Capitol Hill were all cheers when they passed first-of-its-kind credit card reform earlier in the year — only to become publicly indignant when the card companies began hiking rates and fees in advance of those changes taking hold.
So after some Democrats initially delayed the implementation date until next year — a naked bow to the banking industry — others are now trying to change the implementation timeline so the reforms take effect sooner.
Indeed, the House Financial Services today is marking up legislation to do just that. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.), would expedite the reforms so that they kick in Dec. 1 — 12 weeks earlier, for most provisions, than the existing law.
Boosting the effort, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) today introduced an identical proposal in the upper chamber.
Outside of the legislative effort, Democrats have been urging the Federal Reserve, which is responsible for implementing the legislation, to expedite the reforms on its own. But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers this week that, while the quicker start date “could provide benefits for consumers, the [Fed] continues to believe that, given the breadth of the changes required by the [law], card issuers must be afforded sufficient time for implementation to allow for an orderly transition.”
In a letter to Rep. Spencer Bachus (Ala.), senior Republican on the Financial Services Committee, Bernanke also claimed that expediting the reforms unilaterally would steal an opportunity from the public and the card companies to comment on the change.
That response riled Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said this week that if the Fed doesn’t make the changes, “we should quickly pass legislation in both the House and Senate to do so.”