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Credit Regulation That Discriminates Against Stay-At-Home Spouses to be Focus of Subcommittee Hearing

Washington, June 5, 2012 -

A Financial Services Subcommittee on Wednesday will examine a Federal Reserve rule that discriminates against stay-at-home moms and other spouses who earn less than their husband or wife.

The Federal Reserve rule requires lenders to consider individual rather than household income when determining whether someone qualifies for a credit card.  Prior to the rule, which was mandated by the 2009 Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, stay-at-home spouses could take out credit cards in their own names by citing household incomes.

The Fed acknowledged that its rule could prevent a consumer without an independent income from opening a credit card account even though the consumer has access to the income of a spouse.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who chairs the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee, has prepared draft legislation to require credit card issuers to evaluate the ability of both spouses to make payments on a credit card account. (Click here to view the draft proposal.)

“Over the last year members of this subcommittee have tried to work with the Federal Reserve and subsequently the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to ensure that stay-at-home spouses are not adversely affected by the ability to pay rule. The Federal Reserve’s rule, as currently drafted, is having serious unintended consequences and we are hearing a growing concern that stay-at-home spouses are either being denied credit or receiving reduced levels of credit.   I look forward to hearing from the CFPB about the steps they are taking to ensure stay-at-home spouses are not adversely affected,” said Subcommittee Chairman Capito.

The authority to amend and enforce the Federal Reserve’s rule is now held by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is sending a witness to Wednesday’s Subcommittee hearing.

The hearing will take place on Wednesday, June 6 at 2 p.m. in room 2128 Rayburn House Office Building.

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