Small-business owners head to Capitol to push Durbin amendment

Organizers had hoped that Durbin himself would be able to make an appearance Thursday morning, but a representative for the group said the senator was unable to because of a scheduling issue. 

The Federal Reserve currently has until April to finalize rules on implementing the Durbin amendment, though banks and supportive lawmakers are lobbying to have the deadline pushed back.

Banks currently charge an average of 44 cents per debit card transaction, but the Fed’s current plan would drop that to between seven and 12 cents. 

Backers of the banking industry have pressed the case that the government shouldn’t be playing such a prominent role in a private-sector issue. Lawmakers and even Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, have also indicated that the amendment could have negative unintended consequences for small banks, even though it contains an exemption for banks with under $10 billion in assets. 

But supporters of the provision have said the lower fees would be a boon to Main Street businesses. 

“Year after year, I have seen these fees continue to rise and prevent guys like me from lowering prices, expanding business or strengthening a local economy,” said Dennis Lane, who owns a 7-11 franchise in Quincy, Mass., and is a national spokesman for Reform Swipe Fees Now.