Major retailers Walmart, Kroger, Home Depot and hundreds of other stores issued a warning Tuesday to House Republicans about a financial reform bill, saying that a provision about debit card fees that has been added to the legislation would hurt the economy.
In a jointly signed letter, the corporations warned the Republican leadership of the House Financial Services Committee that a provision they are contemplating "would be a monumental step in the wrong direction for U.S. businesses and consumers."
The measure in question would repeal the "Durbin Amendment" to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law that placed caps on debit card transaction fees and is part of a larger legislative package Republicans have announced to overhaul the financial system and reduce regulations.
Tuesday's letter from retailers and merchants is the latest indication of the industry jockeying around the inclusion of the swipe fee measure in the bill. While card-issuing banks want to see the cap repealed, retailers that pay the fees strongly favor it, creating an industry-versus-industry dynamic that could complicate the politics of advancing the legislation for its GOP authors.
In their letter, the businesses suggested that they had no choice but to favor government regulation of fees. "We are staunch supporters of free enterprise, and generally do not support any market intervention unless markets are not functioning efficiently," the letter read. "Credit and debit card acceptance is a prime example of a nonfunctioning marketplace."
The letter was sent to committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling as well as to Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, the author of the specific bill that would repeal the cap on swipe fees. Hensarling has said that he hopes to mark up the legislation this month.
Many of the biggest U.S. companies were signatories, including 7-Eleven, American Airlines, BJ's, JC Penney, Lowe's, McDonald's, Sears, Target and many more.