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What's Up in Washington: 2019 Kicks Off with a Partial Government Shutdown and New Congress (MAG Quarterly- Volume Seven, Issue One)

Provenzano_Beth
By Beth Provenzano, Vice President, Public Affairs, MAG 

March 7, 2019


2019 began with a partial government shutdown, and Congressional leaders reached a deal with President Trump in February to keep the government open and add security along the border. While those negotiations took place throughout the first several weeks of the year, Congressional leaders made committee assignments, paving the way for new Chairmen and Ranking Members to begin setting their agendas for the 116th Congress. 

Key Congressional Assignments
With Democrats in the Majority of the House of Representatives, chairmanships of the committees have switched to Democratic members.  Several committees to watch include House Financial Services, with Chairman Maxine Waters (D-CA) at the helm, and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) as Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee Chair; House Energy and Commerce, with new Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Consumer Protection and Commerce Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL); House Judiciary and Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY); and House Small Business, led by Chairman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY).  These four committees are typically most active on payments and consumer protection related issues, with Financial Services’ jurisdiction over financial institutions, Energy and Commerce’s jurisdiction over payment networks, Judiciary’s jurisdiction over antitrust; and Small Business’ jurisdiction over the Small Business Administration and interest in matters related to small businesses, including retailers and merchants.

On the Senate side, Republicans remain in the Majority but there was a change at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee due to other Republican Leadership changes.  Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), who has served on the committee for several years, is the new chairman. There is also a new Chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). The Senate Banking Committee will continue to be chaired by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID).

Legislative Outlook
Although the partial government shutdown in late 2018 and early 2019 slowed down initial progress lawmakers were eager to see in the early days of the 116th Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the new House Chairman are eager to get back on track.  Consumer Protection issues will remain front and center in the House of Representatives across various committees.  Rep. Meeks introduced a bill to study open banking during the last Congress, in September of 2018 and expects to re-introduce that legislation again, with some modifications.  Members of the House and Senate are also actively discussing data privacy legislation, which will be vetted by various committees in both chambers, and the debate could draw out over the majority of this Congress.  Merchants are interested in proactive payments legislation, and the ability to be successful will depend on the substance of the legislation, who the co-sponsors are, and the timing of bill introduction, the Committee process, and lawmakers’ competing priorities.

We need you!
MAG remains engaged in building relationships with lawmakers through in-person meetings, continued dialogue over the phone and email, sharing payments expertise through KnowYourPayments.com and social media impressions.  We also provide subject matter expertise and weigh in on potential legislative proposals that impact the payments industry and merchant community.  Please help us stay involved with federal lawmakers and regulators by sharing your knowledge with us. Contact Beth Provenzano if you are interested in joining the MAG’s Advocacy and Communications Committee.