Financial reform still stuck in Congress
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he’ll ask for a new vote today on financial reform after the regulatory bill was dealt a temporary setback as two Democratic holdouts said it didn’t do enough to tighten rules on Wall Street. And it looks like Republicans could delay the vote yet again.
Why does the Senate need a new vote today?
The Democrats were hoping for a vote that would limit how much more debate could go on and how many more amendments could be added and discussed. But you need 60 votes to do that. And two Democrats said they were holding out for tougher regulations. Those Senators, Maria Cantwell of Washington and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, did say they might well vote for the bill later.
Why did the Democratic senators vote against ending debate?
In a statement, Feingold explained why he voted “no” on ending debate on the financial regulatory reform bill: “After thirty years of giving in to the wishes of Wall Street lobbyists, Congress needs to finally enact tough reforms to prevent Wall Street from driving our economy into the ditch again. We need to eliminate the risk posed to our economy by ‘too big to fail’ financial firms and to reinstate the protective firewalls between Main Street banks and Wall Street firms. Unfortunately, these key reforms are not included in the bill. The test for this legislation is a simple one — whether it will prevent another financial crisis. As the bill stands, it fails that test. Ending debate on the bill is finishing before the job is done.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Cantwell said a key amendment was a deal-breaker for her vote. She is seeking a vote on an amendment she co-sponsored with Sen. Blanche Lincoln that aims to toughen proposed rules for the trading of derivatives.
Where does bank reform stand?
It’s not doomed. This is really more of a procedural problem. What the Democrats are really up against — as we’ve been talking about for weeks now — is that big banks and their supporters are trying to make sure the new reforms don’t cut into profits too much. So there’s probably still going to be more negotiation. But it looks like there is enough support to pass — there are Republicans who say they’ll vote for it. And it looks like the bill will probably pass pretty soon. Of course, after that it still has to be reconciled with the House version, which could take awhile.
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