Senate leaders are trying to “hotline” a bill that would expedite previously passed credit card reforms to prevent companies from hiking rates and fees before the law takes hold, according to sources on Capitol Hill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has asked members of the Banking Committee for their consent to move the bill directly to the Senate calender without the panel addressing it first. The move is an indication that Democratic leaders want the option to consider the bill at any time, though it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll do so.
There’s no word yet from Banking leaders if that consent has been granted. Still, the strategy is significant because if Republicans want to block the motion, they’ll have to go on the record to do so.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), is designed to tackle a problem the Democrats themselves created.
The credit card reform legislation that Democrats pushed through Congress in May aims to eliminate the most abusive practices adopted by credit card issuers. It bans, for example, a number of hidden fees and prohibits companies from applying rate hikes to existing balances. Yet most of those reforms don’t take effect until late February. To beat the deadline, many companies have raised fees and rates while it’s still legal to do so.
So now Democrats, themselves responsible for delaying the reforms, are trying to get them installed more quickly. The House on Wednesday passed a bill to bump up the implementation date to Dec. 1. The Udall bill proposes the same expedited timeline.