Friday, September 7, 2012

The Boys are Back in Town

After a five week recess, two party conventions and a nasty Gulf hurricane, Congress is back in session on September 10. How long will they stick around? What can they do before taking off to campaign back home? [Quick fact: The boys may be back in town, but women currently constitute 17% of the 112th Congress. Apologies to Thin Lizzy.]

At most, Congress will be in session three weeks with a scheduled adjournment date of October 5. The only “must do” agenda item is to pass a measure to fund the government when the new fiscal year begins October 1. At this writing, no individual appropriations bills have been sent to the President’s desk for signature into law. No one is even sure if a lame duck Congress can agree on 2013 spending levels. The budget can could be kicked into early 2013 and a new Congress. It’s happened before in recent years. The only positive news here is that the House and Senate agreed to the temporary funding measure back in July.

When we last saw the Senate in session, no agreement could be reached to move forward on comprehensive cyber-security legislation. News reports popped up periodically in August that some Senators believed a deal could be reached in September. Count me in the doubtful column. We do know, however, the Obama Administration is actively considering either a revised Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7 or an entirely new executive order on cyber-security. PaymenTrends will keep close tabs on all things cyber. We should also bear in mind that Congress may be in and out of session with a blink of an eye, but federal agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau remain open for business. CFPB is currently digesting public comments on overdraft protection and prepaid cards (just to name two).

I do want to give a “shout out” to one piece of legislation that has passed the House of Representatives 371-0 and that has more than 60 Senate cosponsors. This legislation (H.R. 4367/S. 3204) would eliminate the requirement that an ATM need a physical placard fee notice to accompany the on-screen fee notice to a consumer. This is one issue where Republicans and Democrats have united behind common-sense legislation to eliminate a burdensome and unnecessary regulation. The Senate needs to act on S. 3204 before leaving for home in October.

EFTA’s Legislative & Regulatory Council will be tackling all these issues (CFPB, ATM signage, overdraft protection, cyber-security) this September 27 in Washington DC. Speakers include Stuart Pratt, President & CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, Nicole Muryn, director of regulatory and legislative affairs for BITS and Catherine Galicia, counsel to Chairman Tim Johnson of the Senate Banking Committee.

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