This vote was on whether to allow an amendment by Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that would limit the annual percentage rate applicable to credit cards to 15 percent, with some exceptions. The amendment was offered to a bill that would impose new restrictions on credit card companies’ lending practices.
Sanders offered his amendment, and then Richard Shelby, R-Ala., made a motion to kill Sanders’ amendment because it violates the Senate’s rule that requires any legislation under the purview of the Budget Committee to have its endorsement before going to the floor. Sanders then called a vote to waive that rule for his amendment, which is what this vote was on.
“This amendment is, in fact, very simple. It says now is the time to end usury in the United States of America. Now is the time to protect the American people against 25, 30 percent or more interest rates on their credit cards,” Sanders said. “When banks are charging 30 percent interest rates, they are not making credit available; they are engaged in loansharking. That is what they are engaged in, and we should be very clear about that. Now is the time to eliminate that behavior.” Sanders added that he picked 15 percent because that is the level credit union interest rates are capped at.
No one spoke against Sanders’ amendment, however after the motion was defeated Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said “one should not read the outcome of the Sanders vote as a rejection of the idea that applying some standards of fairness is unacceptable to this body.”
“I believe a lot of Members voted against waiving the budget point of order not because they disagreed with what he is trying to do. I would not want that vote to reflect that,” Dodd said.
By a vote of 33-60, the motion was rejected. Of Democrats present, 31 voted for the motion (including the most progressive members) and 21 voted against it. All but one Republican present voted against the motion. The end result is that the motion to waive the rules failed, Sanders’ amendment was defeated, and the measure went forward without language that would have capped credit card interest rates at 15 percent.