Financial reform clears Senate, heads to conference
by desmoinesdem, Thu May 20, 2010 at 10:34:26 PM EDT
The U.S. Senate passed the Wall Street reform bill today by a 59 to 39 vote (roll call here). The vote was mostly along party lines, but Democrats Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Maria Cantwell or Washington voted no, while Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Chuck Grassley of Iowa voted yes. Earlier today, a cloture motion to end debate on the bill passed 60 to 40. Only three Republicans voted for the cloture motion (Snowe, Collins and Brown). In other words, Grassley voted against letting the bill advance before he voted for it.
Grassley typically wouldn't be the only conservative Republican voting with a handful of New England moderates. Like Howie Klein, I wonder whether Grassley was concerned about this bill becoming an election issue. Democrat Roxanne Conlin's campaign blasted Grassley yesterday for joining the Republican filibuster of the bill.
The financial reform now goes to a formal conference committee to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions. Annie Lowrey discussed that process and some of the contentious issues here. I'm not hopeful about the final product.
Lots of amendments to more strongly regulate the financial industry bill didn't get a vote in the Senate, including Tom Harkin of Iowa's proposed limit on ATM fees. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Carl Levin of Michigan were unable to get a vote on their amendment to reinstate the "Volcker rule" (banning proprietary trading by banks). There was a small silver lining in that opposition to Merkley-Levin scuttled a horrible idea. Earlier this week Merkley and Levin attached their amendment to a terrible Republican amendment, which would "[exempt] auto dealers from new consumer protection laws, even though auto loans are the biggest instances of financial malfeasance against consumers, especially military personnel." Today Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas withdrew his auto dealer amendment in order to prevent Merkley-Levin from getting a vote.