Foodservice Equipment Reports

Operators At NRA Conference Urge That Swipe-Fee Reforms Stand

The National Restaurant Association’s 25th annual Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., April 13-15, covered a number of hot topics, including debit-card swipe fees. Nearly 500 restaurateurs from 44 states headed to Capitol Hill to call on Congress to fight back against banks and debit-card companies seeking to halt recent reforms to swipe fee practices.

Joined by the Merchants Payment Coalition, the association and its members have fought successfully for swipe-fee reforms. In 2010, Congress passed the Durbin Amendment, which instructs the Federal Reserve to ensure that the debit-card swipe fees merchants get charged when guests pay by debit cards are in line with what it costs to process transactions.

Draft rules were issued last December to enforce the law, proposing to scale back merchants’ debit-card swipe fees from an average of 44 cents per transaction to a cap of 7 to 12 cents per transaction under the “reasonable and proportional” standard set by the law. But now large banks and debit card companies are trying to delay the reforms, scheduled to go into effect on July 21.

Specifically, the restaurateurs are calling on their congressional members to oppose S. 575, a bipartisan Senate bill which calls for a two-year study and delay, and H.R. 1081, which would delay rules by at least a year.

During their meetings on Capitol Hill, restaurateurs also advocated for significant changes to the health-care law; an equitable and permanent 15-year depreciation schedule for restaurant improvements/new construction; improved access to credit; and changes to proposed “gainful employment” regulations, among other issues.

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