What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Banks/Credit Card Companies : (H, Res. 456) Legislation designed to establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of consumer credit - - on agreeing to the resolution setting the terms for debating the bill
 Who: All Members
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(H, Res. 456) Legislation designed to establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of consumer credit - - on agreeing to the resolution setting the terms for debating the bill
house Roll Call 273     May 20, 2009
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This was a vote on the resolution or “rule” establishing terms for consideration of the bill designed to establish fair and transparent consumer credit practices. The House had previously passed a version of the bill and sent it to the Senate, which had amended it. Under House procedures, the House first had to agree to this rule before it could consider whether to accept the Senate version. Under the terms of the proposed rule, no Member could offer an amendment to the bill.

Rep. Pingree (D-ME), who was leading the effort on behalf of the rule noted that Americans hold nearly $1 trillion of credit card debt and that there have been many recent reports of “the deceptive practices of credit card companies”. She argued that “(C)redit cards have gone from being a luxury to . . . being a necessity” and noted that “(F)amily and consumer groups have highlighted the more than 91 million United States families who are subject to unfair interest rate hikes and being taken advantage of by hidden penalties and fees.”

Pingree went on explain the need for the legislation by saying that credit card agreements used to be “reasonably straightforward and fair . . . (but) all that has changed. Credit card agreements are a tangle of fine print with complicated provisions that almost seem designed to keep the cardholder in debt forever. Everywhere you turn, it seems the credit card companies have dreamed up a new fee or another clever scheme to raise your interest rate. Basic fairness has been replaced by deception and greed.    These days using a credit card is like going to a Las Vegas casino. No matter how clever or responsible you are, nine times out of ten, you are going to lose, and the company is going to win. Managing your finances shouldn't be a gamble. The deck shouldn't be stacked against you.”  Pingree concluded by claiming that “this bill will bring back basic fairness to the credit card industry and level the playing field for Americans to take responsibility for their finances.”

Rep. Sessions (R-TX), who was leading the Republican opposition to the rule, referenced the fact that it would not permit Members to offer individual amendments during House consideration. He said that this limitation does not allow for “the open and honest debate that has been promised time and time again by my Democrat colleagues.” Sessions said he also opposed the bill itself because it “is yet another example of the federal government overstepping its boundaries into the private marketplace.” Sessions added that it reflects the view that Congress needs “to regulate every sector of the economy”.

Sessions also argued against the bill because the Federal Reserve had recently approved passed new credit card rules, effective in 2010 that, he said, “would protect consumers and provide for more transparency and accountability in our credit market. He added that he opposed the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights because it “allows for the Federal Government to micromanage the way the credit card and the banking industry does its business. If enacted into law, it is not credit card companies that will suffer. It will be everyone that has a credit card . . . Every American will see an increase in their interest rates. And some of the current benefits that encourage responsible lending will most likely disappear, for example, cash advances and over-the-limit protection. “

The resolution passed by a vote of 247-180.Two hundred and forty-five Democrats and two Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and seventy-four Republicans and six Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to begin debate on the bill to establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of consumer credit.

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