Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) are pushing the Biden administration to weaponize the federal government against opponents of their credit card bill.
Marshall and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Durbin are pushing the Transportation Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) about “troubling reports” of unfair and deceptive practices in airlines’ frequent flyer and loyalty programs. If true, Marshall would appear to be working with Durbin to unleash the government against Americans, an accusation he has lobbed at Democrats.
The two lawmakers cited reports, claiming “airlines are changing point systems in ways that are unfair to consumers, including by devaluing points, meaning it takes more points than initially marketed to achieve the promised rewards.”
Marshall and Durbin lobbying the federal government to target opponents of their bill does not sit well with those in Congress.
“This entire investigation is happening only because the Durbin credit card bill isn’t passing, so this is his revenge. Durbin and his allies are using the administrative state as a weapon, just like the Biden regime has weaponized every agency against Elon Musk for failing to toe the line,” a Senate aide told Breitbart News.
“It’s beyond inappropriate,” the aide continued. “It’s more fitting for a banana republic than America.”
Durbin and Marshall are pushing their credit card bill, the Credit Card Competition Act, by which they hope to inject more competition into payment processing by requiring banks to work with at least one alternative payment network besides Visa and Mastercard, the dominant players in the industry. Critics of the bill contend that it would, in addition to compromising the security of payment processing, kill credit card reward programs. Indeed, major airlines have been vocal in their opposition to the bill.
A spokesperson for Airlines for America, an association representing America’s major airlines, said, in a statement to Breitbart News, “Millions of Americans choose to use airline credit cards every day because of the tremendous benefits they provide. Rewards cards generate immense value for consumers, and the Durbin-Marshall bill would significantly change credit card points, negatively impacting travelers.”
FreedomWorks wrote that the Durbin-Marshall bill could scrap credit card rewards, similar to how the Durbin Amendment limited debit rewards.
Airlines for America estimates that 63 percent of total frequent flyer miles/points earned in 2022 were generated by the use of an airline credit card, and these credit cards paid for 15 million domestic visitor trips that supported $23 billion in economic activity in 2022.
Despite the average American’s interest in credit card reward programs, incredibly, Marshall said in September that credit card rewards “are for rich people.”
Whenever a consumer swipes a credit card for a purchase, the transaction is routed over a payment network, such as Visa or Mastercard. Visa or Mastercard charges the merchant an interchange fee for securing the transaction, and the credit card issuer, such as Chase or Capital One, receives part of the interchange fee for covering the costs of the lending.
In response to a comment request from Breitbart News, a Durbin spokesman pointed towards the senator’s remarks, which disputed claims that the bill would go after airline rewards.
Durbin said in December on the Senate floor:
They also have recruited allies, including some in the airline industry, to breathlessly claim that my bill would make frequent flyer rewards programs disappear. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby recently said that my legislation would “kill rewards programs.” Let me be very clear: That is a patently false statement.
“Airlines have a long track record of deceptive practices with their points and rewards programs, retroactively taking away perks and benefits that Americans have bought into,” Marshall said in a statement to Breitbart News. “Many consumers will often pay extra for flights, specifically to earn miles and gain status upgrades, only to have the rug pulled out from under them when airlines decide to continually raise the threshold. Americans are fed up with having no recourse when major airlines pull a fast one and betray their loyalty.”
Sens. Marshall and Durbin have yet to respond to a follow-up question if their efforts to enlist the help of the Transportation Department and CFPB are in response to the airlines’ opposition to their credit card bill.
Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.