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The Associated Press June 7, 2011, 3:20PM ET

Bankers, merchants debit card fight hits Senate

A heavily-lobbied battle pitting bankers against merchants over the fees stores must pay banks when a customer swipes a debit card has reached the Senate floor.

Last year's financial overhaul law required the Federal Reserve to issue a rule capping those fees. The Fed has proposed limiting the fees to no more than 12 cents per transaction -- way down from the current average of 44 cents. At stake is $16 billion per year that the Fed says stores pay to banks in these fees.

Both sides claim to represent consumers' interests. Merchants say the fees force them to charge higher prices, while banks say they'll have to raise other fees -- such as for checking accounts -- if the swipe fees are sharply reduced.

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