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Rep. Slaughter Takes on Credit Card Interest Rates

January 13, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Rep. Louise Slaughter [D, NY-28] thinks that Congress hasn’t done enough to reign in abusive practices in the credit card industry. She’s taking the issue into her own hands.

Slaughter recently introduced a bill along with Rep. John Tierney [D, MA-6] that would set a nation-wide annual credit card interest rate cap at 16%. The cap would include the cost of all the fees that credit card companies use sometimes to mask the true cost of using the card. It would also put a $15 ceiling on the fees. Learn all about the bill here:

H.R. 4300 – Restoring America’s Commitment to Consumers Act

It’s not the first bill to be introduced in this session of Congress to ban usurious interest rates on credit cards. There are already several others pending. But Slaughter has a plan to make sure that her bill actually sees at least some progress in the legislative process. She referred the bill to the congressional committee she chairs, the House Rules Committee, and she has already scheduled it for the first big step in the legislative process, a hearing, which is set for Jan. 27. She also referred the bill to the House Financial Service Committee.

Bringing a bill like this straight to the Rules Committee is highly unusual. The Rules Committee typically doesn’t even deal with bills at this stage in the legislative process. They usually just determine the rules that will govern the debate for bills that are scheduled to go to the House floor. They don’t usually consider bills based on their substance.

Normally, this bill would only be referred to the Financial Services Committee. But bills normally also die in the committee they are referred to without ever seeing so much as a hearing. Slaughter’s move to refer it to Rules ensures that it will get at least that far. And since more than half of the Democrats on the Rules committee are also original co-sponsors of the bill, it will probably be approved by the committee as well.

The bill will also have to be approved by the Financial Service Committee before it goes to a full House vote. The fact that it will have already taken up Congress’s time and passed the stage where most bills die in Congress will likely help its chances of getting a vote in that committee and moving to the full House floor.

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