Expedited Credit Card Act passes House; Lamborn, Coffman oppose

The Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009, H.R. 3639, passed the House in a 331-92 vote Wednesday, with a number of Republicans joining Democrats in voting for the bill.

Colorado’s Republicans, however, were not among them.  Doug Lamborn, representing the Fifth District, and Mike Coffman, representing the Sixth District, both voted against the bill. All of Colorado’s Democrats voted in favor of the bill–many enthusiastically so, measuring by the number of press releases sent out shortly after the vote.

Media reports, however, suggest the bill may not pass in the Senate.

GOP Reps Lamborn and Coffman

GOP Reps Lamborn and Coffman

The bill moves the Credit CARD Act’s effective date up from February 1 to December 1. The move comes in response to reports that credit card companies have been taking advantage of the long period of time between the bill’s passage and its implementation to raise rates, institute fees and change terms and conditions.

Here’s the Associated Press account of the reforms in the Act that credit card companies are trying to circumvent:

Under the new law, lenders won’t be able to increase rates on existing balances suddenly unless a person is more than 60 days behind on a payment. Banks also couldn’t give cards to people under 21 unless a parent co-signed or the cardholder could prove they had the means to pay back the loan.

Almost immediately after the expedited version of the bill passed, Colorado lawmakers began releasing statements in support of the expedited act. Democrat Ed Perlmutter, who represents the Seventh District, released a statement noting that he had led the debate “to accelerate critical reforms to protect consumers from the abusive practices of the credit card industry.”

Perlmutter released this video of himself advocating for the expedited act. Watch him taunt the Republicans who don’t like the bill, arguing that their new mantra has become “Just say no, we like the status quo”:

Betsy Markey, a Democrat representing Colorado’s Fourth District, also released a statement, pointing out that her amendment to the bill had passed unanimously. Markey’s amendment would allow credit card companies who promise to freeze their rates immediately to avoid compliance with other provisions of the Credit CARD act until the first of February.

Sen. Mark Udall issued a statement praising the House passage. Udall, a Colorado Democrat who has sponsored a similar measure in the Senate, urged his colleagues to follow suit.

Udall drew on David-and-Goliath references:

There’s still time for the Senate to follow the House’s actions, pass this bill and send it to the President for his signature – before the holiday season starts.  Consumers need relief, and I urge my colleagues to join me in this fight.  This is the classic story of David vs. Goliath – and I’m happy to take on Goliath.

But the Associated Press is reporting that the Senate may struggle to pass similar legislation  because lawmakers worry that a short deadline could hurt the industry and limit the availability of credit.

The nine-month period between passage and implementation was originally a nod to those in the Senate who worried that the Act’s rules were too onerous, according to the AP.

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Katie Redding

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