WASHINGTON (CN) – Senators debated the financial reform bill Friday before adjourning for the weekend, airing disagreements over the bill’s provisions after a three-day standoff had blocked the bill from Senate floor debate.
Senate Banking Committee Chair Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the bill’s sponsor, monopolized much of the floor time Friday, emphasizing the dire need for Wall Street reform.
“Jobs have been lost, lives have been ruined, absolutely ruined over the past 18 months,” Dodd said. Dodd chastised big banks for not apologizing for their role in the financial crisis, saying their haughty attitude illustrated the need for a consumer protection agency.
The bill, called the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, would create a new consumer protection agency, end “too big to fail” institutions and taxpayer bailouts, and illuminate the derivatives market by placing trades through clearinghouses.
Bob Corker, R-Tenn., complained that the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will do nothing to touch Wall Street. The big firms have “reams of people to deal with consumer law,” Corker said in a floor speech. He insisted that only small- and medium-sized businesses will be affected, calling it a “moral hazard” to penalize small business while trying to rein in Wall Street.
Dodd said he is willing to change the language of the bill so it doesn’t appear to hurt small businesses, as that is not the bill’s intention. Dodd insisted that its main purpose is to protect consumers.
He also assured Corker and other critics of the bill that the new consumer protection bureau will keep information private, only sharing collected information with other regulators.
The Senate will continue working on the bill on Tuesday and will likely vote on several amendments next week.