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Ben Nelson: I Don't Know How to Use an ATM

Ben Nelson

The Senate just narrowly voted today to end debate on financial reform, even though a number of amendments to the legislation were never considered.

One amendment never debated was a proposal from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to cap ATM fees. The Senate's lack of interest in the issue may stem from a lack of experience with ATMs -- at least in the case of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), the Omaha World-Herald reports.

When asked about the amendment, Nelson said he is unfamiliar with the charges incurred when a customer uses an ATM not affiliated with his or her bank.

"I've never used an ATM, so I don't know what the fees are," Nelson reportedly said, adding that he gets his cash from bank tellers, just not automatic ones. "It's true, I don't know how to use one."

"But I could learn how to do it just like I've... I swipe to get my own gas, buy groceries," he continued. "I know about the holograms." The World-Herald reports that by "holograms," Nelson was referring to the bar codes on products read by automatic scanners.

Nelson's remarks are reminiscent of the wonderment former President George W. Bush expressed upon viewing electronic grocery price scanners in 1992.

Harkin reportedly said he uses an ATM card "once every couple weeks."

"Consumers are being charged ATM fees that are well in excess of the cost of providing services, in some instances, as much as $5 per withdrawal," Harkin said in a May 4 statement announcing the introduction of his amendment. "These fees are outrageous, are anti-consumer, and they need to be reigned in."

Harkin tried vigorously to get a vote for his amendment, leading to a heated exchange with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Huffington Post reports.

"What kind of games are being played around here?" Harkin reportedly asked Tuesday night. "I've had this amendment pending ever since the beginning. And I have not been allowed to bring it up. "

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