WASHINGTON –U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) along with the National Restaurant Association and restaurant operators from Illinois and Kansas, held a press conference on the need to pass their Credit Card Competition Act, bipartisan legislation that would enhance competition and choice in the credit card network market, which is currently dominated by the Visa-Mastercard duopoly. Swipe fees are the third most expensive cost restaurant operators have to manage—behind only food and labor costs. It is estimated that businesses paid more than $100 billion in swipe fees on Visa- and Mastercard-branded cards in 2023 alone.

Durbin and Marshall were joined by Adam R. Mills, President & CEO, Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association; Kevin Vaughan, Owner of Vaughan Hospitality Group, Chicago, Illinois; Janez Lomshek, Owner of Talk of the Town & The Bullpen, Overland Park & Leawood, Kansas; Dan Raskin, Owner of Manny’s Deli, Chicago, Illinois; and Jennifer Ray, Owner of The Monarch, Wichita, Kansas.

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“When I visit restaurants and retailers back home in Illinois, the first thing they ask me is, ‘what are you going to do about credit card swipe fees?’” Durbin said. “There is no negotiation or competition. Our restaurant owners have no choice but to accept the outrageous fees, which are set around three percent. That’s why I worked with Sen. Marshall to introduce the Credit Card Competition Act, which would introduce competition and choice to the credit card market and bring down excessive fees. We’re fighting for the retailers and restaurant owners across America who are asking for economic fairness.”

“Hidden Swipe fees are inflation multipliers that are crushing our small businesses across the country. I have heard time and time again from Kansas merchants that Credit Card swipe fees are one of their businesses' highest costs, often topping utilities, rent, and even employees' health care. Majority Whip Dick Durbin and I will continue fighting for Main Street over Wall Street with our legislation, the Credit Card Competition Act, that would inject competition in the payment processing industry and ultimately drive down costs for businesses and consumers. I was proud to be joined by Kansas restaurant owners who shared their stories of the impacts these predatory swipe fees have on their business- these are the realities that the mega-Wall Street banks, Visa, and Mastercard do not want people to hear,” said Marshall.

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“Hundreds of restaurant owners from around the country convened in Washington to share their perspective with Congress on why the Credit Card Competition Act would be game changing for all small business owners and would save customers thousands of dollars a year. We appreciate Sens. Durbin and Marshall’s unwavering commitment to the CCCA and the relief that it would bring restaurant operators in Illinois and Kansas. We were proud to stand with them today and share our stories,” said Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association.

Building off of debit card competition reforms enacted by Congress in 2010, the Credit Card Competition Act would direct the Federal Reserve to ensure that the largest credit card-issuing banks offer a choice of at least two networks, one of which must be a network other than Visa and Mastercard, over which an electronic credit transaction may be processed. U.S. Senators Peter Welch (D-VT), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) are cosponsors of the legislation, which is estimated to save merchants and consumers $15 billion each year.

Photos of the press conference can be found here.

A livestream can be found on Facebook here and X (formerly known as Twitter) here.

Visa and Mastercard wield enormous market power in credit cards; according to the Federal Reserve, they account for nearly 576 million cards, or about 83 percent of general-purpose credit cards. Visa’s and Mastercard’s market power and network structure have enabled them to impose fees on U.S. merchants that are among the world’s highest, charging more than $100 billion in U.S. merchant credit card fees in 2023. These fees include interchange fees which Visa and Mastercard require merchants to pay to issuing banks, as well as network fees that Visa and Mastercard require merchants to pay directly to them. Consumers ultimately pay for all of these fees in the price of the goods and services they buy.

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