Negotiations with the House over the final financial reform bill are expected to be more transparent than they were with health-care reform. Exemptions or special deals sought by industry lobbyists are likely to stir intense debate.
On a barely bipartisan 59-to-39 vote, the Senate on Thursday approved the most sweeping overhaul of financial-industry oversight since the New Deal era. Next: negotiations with the House, final passage expected by July 4, and a reprise of the main themes of the debate in partisan ads for the fall midterm elections.
The Senate bill gives Washington broad new powers to shut down large, failing firms or require that businesses deemed at risk hold more capital. A new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be tasked to establish new rules for mortgages, auto loans, and credit-card lending, as well as other financial products. The bill extends government oversight to the vast $600 trillion financial derivatives market, including new limits on trading by Wall Street banks.
“The recession we’re emerging from was primarily caused by a lack of responsibility and accountability from Wall Street to Washington,” President Obama said in the White House Rose Garden after a key procedural vote on Thursday that all but ensured that the Senate bill would pass. Next to health-care reform, financial regulation is a top domestic priority for the administration.
“The reform I sign will not stifle the power of the free market – it will simply bring predictable, responsible, sensible rules into the marketplace. Unless your business model is based on bilking your customers and skirting the law, you should have nothing to fear from this legislation,” he added.
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