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Congress Reaches Appropriations Agreement

Posted on 12/16/2011

Senate and House negotiators reached an agreement last night on a nine-bill, $915 billion appropriations package (H.R. 2055) that would fund federal government operations through the rest of the fiscal year. Both chambers are expected to vote on the legislation today.

Included in the package agreement is report language by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) that directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to study the impact of the Durbin interchange amendment on community banks and the potential of banking industry collusion in pricing.

As report language, the provision has no legal effect and does not change the price control aspects of the Durbin amendment. It does, however, attempt to interject the FTC into the interchange debate as a way to further politicize the issue and to justify seeking additional interchange regulation.

Efforts to have this language dropped or modified were stymied by Sen. Durbin's leadership position in the negotiations.

Congressional negotiators still must reach agreement on an extension of the currently reduced payroll tax rates, which expire at the end of the year, before Congress can complete its work for the year.

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