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With Goldman Sachs bonuses, new push for 'say on pay' bill

Congress takes up legislation next week to give shareholders of public companies more say on executive compensation.

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Financial professionals working in the Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on July 16. The company reported second-quarter profits and substantial executive compensation.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

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Congress begins a push next week for “say on pay” legislation that would require publicly traded companies to give shareholders an annual nonbinding vote on executive compensation.

The move comes just in time to dampen public ire over this week’s announcement that Goldman Sachs earmarked $6.65 billion for executive compensation, including bonuses, this quarter.

The investment giant paid back $10 billion in funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) just last month, lifting the restrictions that TARP imposed on salaries, bonuses, and severance packages.

Lawmakers, public interest and shareholder groups, and Jon Stewart’s "Daily Show" went on the attack.

“The recent news of compensation on Wall Street shows that some financial leaders yearn for the stirring return of yesteryear and demonstrates the need to adopt legislation on executive pay,” said Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, in a statement.

“We do not know the specifics, but recently reported bonus pools do suggest that there may be a return to the old ways which caused such damage to our economy,” he added.

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