Ms. SUTTON. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
The CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Part B amendment No. 4 offered by Ms. Sutton:
Page 7, after line 18, insert the following new section:
SEC. 4. ADDITIONAL LIMITATIONS ESTABLISHED.
Section 127 of the Truth in Lending Act (U.S.C. 1637) is amended by inserting after subsection (r) (as added by the Credit CARD Act of 2009) the following new subsection:
``(s) Cancellation of Account Without Detrimental Effect.--If, in the case of a credit card account under an open end consumer credit plan, the consumer receives notice of the imposition of a new fee, and within the 45-day period beginning on receipt of such notice, pays off any outstanding balance on the account, no creditor and no consumer reporting agency (as defined in section 603) may use such pay off or closure of the consumer credit account to negatively impact the consumer's
credit score or consumer report (as such terms are defined in section 609 and 603, respectively).''.
The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 884, the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Sutton) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Ohio.
Ms. SUTTON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, as the designee of Mr. Stupak, I am calling up this amendment on behalf of my good friend, the Congressman from Michigan, Mr. Stupak, who is unable to be here with us today due to a death in his family.
Many of our Nation's largest banks received assistance through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, TARP, and these same banks are some of the largest issuers of credit cards. While executives on Wall Street are paid millions of dollars in executive bonuses on the government's credit line, they continue to engage in deceptive and misleading practices that take advantage of consumers and force them to accumulate more debt.
I and 356 of my colleagues supported the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights, H.R. 627, passed by Congress earlier this year. Unfortunately, the reforms put into place by this law are being circumvented, as we heard here today, by credit card companies. Card issuers are raising interest rates, raising minimum payment amounts, and charging extra fees before the bill takes effect.
In this economic crisis, far too many families are forced to rely on short term, high interest credit card debt to pay for food, for housing, and other basic necessities. In Congressman Stupak's district in northern Michigan, unemployment ranges from 6 to 28 percent. In Ohio, the unemployment rate is 10.1 percent. Families are falling behind on their payments and have fallen victim to the predatory practices of the Nation's credit card companies. Moving the enforcement date forward is
critical to helping families across this country.
This amendment will immediately freeze interest rates on existing credit card balances until the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights goes into effect. For too long, the credit card industry has preyed upon consumers through omission of honest billing practices and through loopholes in credit regulation that are common among banking institutions.
On behalf of Congressman Stupak, I urge my colleagues to support my amendment.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. HENSARLING. While I am somewhat unclear why this amendment was made in order, it seems to do precisely the opposite of what the Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act was supposedly designed to do. This freezes prices. And yet we have had so many Members on the other side of the aisle tell us the bill doesn't do that.
I see that the chairman of the full committee has come back to the floor. Just in September, on September 23, the chairman was quoted as saying on the House floor, When it comes to rate setting, this bill, to the disappointment of some, doesn't limit future rates. As far as the future is concerned, if proper notice is given, this bill is not restricted.
Well, the adoption of this amendment would seem to fly in the face of that. The chairman, I assume, was correct when he said it. But if the House adopts this amendment, it will no longer be true.
The chairman of the subcommittee, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Gutierrez), There is no limit in this bill on the interest rate that you can charge. None whatsoever. That was spoken on the House floor on April 29. Again, if the amendment is adopted, that will no longer be true.
This bill aims to bring back some balance in the playing field. Unlike other proposals out there, this bill does not set price controls or rate caps or limit the size of fees. That would be the gentlelady from New York who spoke those words in subcommittee in March of 2008. Again, if the underlying amendment is adopted, it seems to change the nature of the underlying bill.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. The bill does not impose any restrictions other than those in the underlying bill. What it says is, section 4(a) in general, during this period and ending 9 months after the date, it says no creditor may increase any annual percentage rate fee or finance charge except as permitted under subsection 171(b) of the Truth in Lending Act, the CARD Act. So it does have restrictions, but it only reaffirms those that were already in there with the 9-month date. It does not
do any new restriction on the ability to raise rates.
Mr. HENSARLING. Well, I thank the chairman.
Reclaiming my time, During the period beginning on the date of the enactment of this act and ending 9 months after the date, no creditor may increase annual percentage rate fee finance charge. Again, under the subsection it appears again ``for at least a 9-month period.''
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. I apologize, because the part that we were probably both going to read--and we will work on doing it in unison--says, Except as permitted under subsection 171(b). That is, it imposes no new restrictions. It does revert back to those that are already enacted into law.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Would the gentleman yield? That's not a bad question. I don't have as good an answer to that question as I had to the one before.
The CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas controls the time.
Ms. SUTTON. This amendment gives immediate protection to the consumer and will end any manipulation of existing credit card contracts by companies prior to the December 1 date. It's as simple as that.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. HENSARLING. Well, one thing of interest, I suppose, is that if we adopt the earlier amendment of the gentleman from New York, this all becomes irrelevant anyway since the effective date would be immediate. So I believe that----
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. The point is this: Given the context of all these amendments, this one doesn't have great effect. But as Members filed amendments, it wasn't clear all the amendments that were there. I think if the gentleman knew everything else that was going to be done, it might not have appeared.
Mr. HENSARLING. I thank the chairman for his clarification.
Again, I believe that ultimately this is an amendment that would simply impose price controls for a limited duration of time, contrary to what some of us were led to believe.
But again, the most important aspect of this legislation has to be put into the context of the $1 trillion government takeover of our health care plan to be voted on Friday or Saturday. This will make credit more expensive and less available. It should be defeated.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Sutton).
The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the ayes appeared to have it.