Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced legislation March 15 that would delay the new limits by two years, calling for further study on the matter. Similar legislation, which would delay rules for one year, has been introduced in the House.

Under Dodd-Frank, the Federal Reserve is required to finalize rules implementing the provision by April 21. In proposed rules it unveiled in December, the central bank proposed capping fees at seven to 12 cents per transaction, a 73 percent drop from the current 44-cent average.

The provision, which would cost banks and save retailers an estimated $12 billion a year, set off a furious round of lobbying from both sides. Durbin said he was surprised at the intense response his amendment engendered.

“We knew at the time that it was controversial, but I didn’t anticipate the political response that we’ve received this year,” he said.

“You would think that there was a billion dollars a month at stake on this issue,” he added. “And you would be right.”

Durbin was dismissive of calls for further study of the matter, even as non-bank groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Education Association (NEA) have recently joined the push for a delay and study. Both groups said they were concerned about how the new limits could affect lower- and middle-income people.

“Those who say, ‘Well, we need to study this more’ — let me tell you what, that is a smokescreen as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “We don’t need a study, we need action.”

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