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Senate votes to kill rule that made it easier for customers to sue banks, credit card companies

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote Tuesday night to repeal a rule that made it easier for Americans to sue their banks and credit card companies.

Senators passed the measure by a vote of 51-50. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule blocks companies from using arbitration clauses to stop consumers from bringing class action lawsuits.

Many companies tuck arbitration clauses into contracts as a way to resolve disputes outside the court system, making it harder for an individual to bring a case against a bank or credit card company.

Wiping out the rule would affect tens of millions of Americans who often don’t know they are covered by an arbitration clause when they sign up for a credit card, checking account or prepaid card.

The Treasury Department released a report Monday opposing the rule, saying it would favor trial lawyers over consumers by prompting frivolous lawsuits.

Democrats such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren defended the rule this week.

The House has already passed a repeal of the rule. Republicans are using the Congressional Review Act to disapprove of the rule.