Senate votes to let Fed trim debit card swipe fees

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate has voted to let the Federal Reserve limit the fees that stores pay banks each time a shopper swipes a debit card.

It's a victory for merchants in a long-running lobbying fight with banks.

At issue is a Fed proposal that's set to take effect next month and would cap the fees at 12 cents per transaction, compared with the current average of 44 cents per swipe.

Senators who wanted to block the Fed's plan needed 60 votes to prevail. But Wednesday's vote was 54-45 - six short of 60.

The Fed says the current transaction fee earns banks and credit card companies $16 billion a year.

Stores say the lower swipe fees will let them lower their prices. Banks say they will have to raise other fees, such as checking account fees.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)