Senate Votes 60-39 to Pass Financial Reform Bill

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate voted 60-39 Thursday to pass the Wall Street reform bill, approving the largest set of financial regulations since the Great Depression. The bill will now go to President Obama’s desk for signature.

     Joining the 57 Democrats to vote in favor of the bill were Republican Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. Thirty-eight Republicans voted against the bill.
     Brown announced Monday that he supported the bill after saying before the July 4 recess that he would think about it over the break.
     Democrats had catered to Brown before the recess by removing a $19 billion tax on big banks from the bill.
     “I’ve spent the past week reviewing the Wall Street reform bill,” Brown said in a statement when he returned to work on Monday. “While it isn’t perfect, I expect to support the bill when it comes up for a vote.”
     The legislation, officially called the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, includes the creation of a new consumer protection bureau within the Federal Reserve, which will dish out new regulations for the financial industry such as limiting credit card fees and erasing predatory loan practices.
     The bill also introduces new regulations for the over-the-counter derivatives market. Trading in derivatives, or financial instruments that derive their value from underlying assets, contributed to the 2007 financial collapse.
     The bill also gives the federal government the ability to wind down large firms that pose a threat to the economy by breaking down and seizing their assets.
     Republicans complained that the legislation didn’t touch the government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose role in issuing risky mortgage-backed securities contributed to the financial crisis.
     The lone Democrat to vote against the bill, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, said the reforms do not go far enough.
     “The lack of strong reforms is clear confirmation that Wall Street lobbyists and their allies in Washington continue to wield significant influence on the process,” Feingold said.
     “What this bill has done is set a framework for 21st century capitalism,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a Senate floor speech Thursday. Warner compared the legislation to reforms in the 1930s that created the Securities and Exchange Commission and helped frame 20th century financial markets.
     The House of Representatives approved the final version of the bill June 30 by a vote of 237-192, with just three Republicans voting for the legislation.

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