The U.S. House Financial Services Committee yesterday approved the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights by a vote of 39-27, moving the bill closer to a vote in the House. The legislation would end credit card practices some lawmakers deem abusive. Amendments to the bill aligned it more closely with federal regulators' proposed new rules for the card industry and include a "sense of Congress" that the legislation should not prevent regulators from finalizing their new rules before the end of the year. Observers say the bill may not have enough time to come to votes in the full House and Senate this year, but its sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., yesterday vowed to work to bring the bill up for a full House vote during this session. Maloney's bill would prohibit many of the practices the Federal Reserve Board, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration seek to eliminate, including "any time, any reason" repricing of credit card interest rates and a host of other practices, such as billing cardholders for interest accrued during previous billing periods, otherwise known as double-cycle billing. The comment period for the proposed rules, which have generated more than 42,000 letters, closes Monday. "This landmark legislation will help level the playing field between cardholders and card companies, and give consumers the tools they need to responsibly manage their own credit," Maloney said yesterday in a statement. Edward L. Yingling, American Bankers Association president and CEO, said in a statement that the association is disappointed with yesterday's vote. "In its current form this bill seeks to lock into law restrictions on fundamental risk-management activities, the way interest is calculated and other responsible business practices. The result will be higher costs for consumers, reduced access to credit for those with an imperfect or limited credit history, and less access to low credit options," he said.

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