Congress needs new funding for bill

U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) said he will not vote for the financial overhaul bill, because he disagrees with the bank tax that'll fund it.

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Kai Ryssdal: The financial overhaul bill is officially known as the Dodd-Frank Act. That's after the two members of Congress who pushed it through a conference committee last week after an epic round of negotiations. I would offer a new name, though: The Never-Ending Story. Both the House and the Senate were supposed to vote on a final bill this week. Then Democrat Robert Byrd died. And Republican Scott Brown says he's changed his mind about voting yes. He doesn't like a $19 billion bank tax that'll pay for the bill.

So the thing doesn't have the 60 votes it needs to get past a Senate filibuster which means, well, here's Brett Neely from Washington.


Brett Neely: The bank tax was a middle-of-the-night solution so that the financial overhaul bill wouldn't add to the budget deficit.

But, says Karen Petrou of Federal Financial Analytics...

Petrou: That's undermined a very fragile compromise that the Senate crafted so now they've to find a way to make this budget neutral without the new tax.

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown said he couldn't support the tax because consumers, not banks, would end up paying for it.

Raj Date is with the Cambridge Winter Center on Financial Institutions Policy. He says that Brown's concerns about the tax are misplaced.

Date: The size of the tax is so small that consumers wouldn't even notice the difference.

Regardless, House and Senate negotiators now have to scramble for new sources of funding. One idea would be to use leftover money from the TARP bank bailout fund to pay for the financial overhaul bill. Another idea includes raising the fees the FDIC charges banks for deposit insurance. That's to satisfy budget rules and the Congressional Budget Office, says Petrou.

Petrou: This is a scoring game, not a reality game.

She says the Congressional leadership and the White House want the bill done and will do what they have to do to finish it.

Petrou: I think this is a last minute hiccup, not a sigh of exhaustion that dooms the legislation.

If negotiators come up with a deal, the House could hold its final vote tomorrow.

In Washington, I'm Brett Neely for Marketplace.

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