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The House Judiciary Committee's narrow passage yesterday of the Credit Card Fair Fee Act revealed sharp divisions within the political parties. The bill now moves closer to the House floor, and observers say the Senate likely will hold extensive hearings and debate on the interchange legislation as well. The House committee passed the bill by a 19 to 16 vote after nearly four hours of what some observers say was contentious debate during the markup session. Committee members crossed party lines debating the bill, with some Republicans voting to approve the bill and some Democrats voting against it. Ultimately, 10 Democrats and nine Republicans voted to approve the bill, while eight Democrats and eight Republications voted against it. "The markup of (the bill) only raises more questions and concerns about an already bad bill," Josh Floum, general counsel for Visa Inc., said in a statement. Tom Wenning, senior vice president and general counsel for the Arlington, Va.-based National Grocers Association, which applauds the bill's approval, tells CardLine the bill stands a good chance to reach the full House floor for a vote this year. "Despite what some described as a chaotic meeting, I thought it was very reasonable and balanced," Wenning says. "There is certainly time for the bill to reach a vote before the full House before the end of the year."

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