September 20, 2022

Durbin Delivers Opening Statement During Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Hearing

Durbin highlights his efforts to bring fairness, transparency, and competition to credit & debit card swipe fees

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during a Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Protection hearing titled, “Oversight of Federal Enforcement of the Antitrust Laws.” During his statement, Durbin discussed his longstanding efforts to bring fairness, transparency and competition to the credit and debit card systems, which have long been plagued by excessively high interchange, or swipe, fees. Specifically, he highlighted his bipartisan Credit Card Competition Act of 2022, legislation he introduced with U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) that would enhance competition and choice in the credit card network market, which is currently dominated by the Visa-Mastercard duopoly. 

Key Quotes: 

“The Judiciary Committee has been busy in the antitrust space this Congress.  At last count, we have held eleven hearings, including today’s, on competition policy, and reported nine competition bills, with another on this week’s markup agenda.”

“Our hearings and bills have covered a wide variety of topics, from credit card swipe fees and prescription drug markets to food supply chains and Big Tech. Antitrust laws don’t always make for great sound bites, but they are essential. Competition drives innovation and the economy.  It forces businesses to improve their products and services while lowering costs for consumers. Although competition issues are complex, we cannot afford to ignore them.  The cost is literally too high.”

“Last year, American businesses paid an extraordinary $77 billion in fees for credit card transactions under the Visa-Mastercard duopoly.  Those fees are passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices, and they contribute to inflation.  A few months ago, Visa’s CEO actually said, ‘inflation has been positive for us.’  If there was ever an industry where more competition is needed, it’s the credit card network industry.”

“That’s why Senator Marshall and I recently introduced the bipartisan Credit Card Competition Act.  This bill would direct the Federal Reserve to ensure that giant credit card-issuing banks offer a choice of at least two networks on their credit cards, one of which must be other than Visa or Mastercard.”

“But it’s not just the credit card market that is broken.  In the pharmaceutical market, drug prices are skyrocketing… In digital markets, ‘gatekeeper’ companies are consolidating their control.  In the agriculture industry, consolidation is creating enormous challenges for producers and consumers.  The list goes on and on.”

“While we are working to address these competition concerns, more needs to be done. I’m glad Senators Klobuchar and Lee are holding this hearing, and I look forward to hearing more about the FTC and DOJ’s efforts to ensure markets are competitive and working for consumers.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.

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