Wednesday June 08, 2011 | 03:24 PM

Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine both voted against legislation proposing to put a one-year hold on a law capping so-called debit card "swipe" fees. The bill failed to get the 60 votes needed and failed, so the new law will go into effect after all on July 21.

Snowe had said Tuesday she was leaning against the amendment sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, and Bob Corker, R-Tenn. Collins said she was still looking at the issue, but expressed reservations about holding the law up and noted that she favored swipe, or interchange, fee reform.

The federal reserve is charged with putting the new law into effect, and has indicated it will put rules in place limiting fees to an average of about 12 cents per transaction, down from about 44 cents currently. Retailers say they were paying out billions of dollars a year in too-high fees, costing them profits and jobs; banks said the new law will harm smaller and community banks and credit unions and make it difficult to pay for such debit card benefits as anti-fraud measures.

Both Collins and Snowe voted for the broader financial regulation reform bill last year that included the lower swipe fees provision.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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