WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee yesterday approved the Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008, a bill that would require merchants and credit card companies to negotiate transaction fees. The move sets the stage for a potential vote by the full House of Representatives. “This has been the No. 1 legislative priority for our board of directors for more than two years now, so we are quite pleased with the results today,” Tim Hammonds, president and chief executive officer, Food Marketing Institute, told SN yesterday. “I believe this is more progress than you would have thought two years ago when we were starting with a concept called interchange, and no one on [Capitol] Hill had even heard of it.” FMI said the bill preserves most of what retailers had sought to include, with the exception of a provision for a three-judge panel that would have been used to set fees in the event of stalemate between retailers and the card companies. The timing of a potential House vote was uncertain as of yesterday, Hammonds said. The bill passed the committee with bipartisan support on a 19-16 vote. The National Grocers Association, which, like FMI, is a member of the Merchants Payment Coalition that has been lobbying Congress to take action on this issue, also issued a statement in support of the committee’s passage of the bill.
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