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National Restaurant Association - Restaurants lead fight to enact, protect swipe-fee reform

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Restaurants lead fight to enact, protect swipe-fee reform

A year's work of focused efforts by restaurateurs nationwide helped lead to this month's legislative victory securing swipe-fee reform.

“This was a total industry effort,” said Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “Individual restaurant operators, our state restaurant association partners, board members and chain partners across the country all played a significant role in enacting critical swipe-fee reforms last year and protecting those regulations with a vote in the Senate Wednesday.”

“We know it was our members’ consistent outreach to their elected officials that made the difference,” said Rob Gifford, executive vice president of political advocacy for the Association. “The National Restaurant Association is grateful to represent such an engaged and passionate industry committed to growing jobs and providing value to our guests.”

The NRA's involvement in the fight goes back more than a decade, as the NRA and its members took a key role in the Merchants Payments Coalition in the intense battle for reforms to the broken interchange fee market.

Last year, the NRA and its allied trade associations in the MPC saw an opportunity to use the financial services reform bill as a way to advance the long-standing antitrust debate over the practices of the major card companies. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate's top champion for fee reforms, met with the Illinois Restaurant Association in April 2010 to discuss the rapidly rising fees and ways Congress could help correct a broken market.

With a multimillion-dollar lobbying effort by banks and card companies threatening to derail reform this year, approximately 500 restaurateurs made a final push to keep the debit-fee regulations moving forward during this year's NRA Public Affairs Conference in April. Swipe-fee reform was once again the top-priority issue, and restaurateurs from 44 states met with over 250 Capitol Hill offices to urge fair and reasonable debit card fees. Read more.

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