Financial Overhaul Bill Clears Key Hurdle

The Senate has cleared the way for final passage of a financial regulation bill that's a top priority of President Obama.

The vote was 60-40, just enough to meet the threshold needed to end debate.

The bill calls for new ways to watch for risks in the financial system and makes it easier to liquidate large financial firms that are failing.

It also writes new rules for complex securities blamed for helping precipitate the 2008 economic crisis. And it creates a new consumer protection agency.

Obama praised the breakthrough, saying he will ensure the final bill is effective and responsive. He said lobbyists tried to kill the measure — and then water it down — but those efforts "have failed."

An effort to wrap up debate failed Wednesday. But on Thursday, Republicans Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine joined Democrats in voting to move forward with the legislation.

Before voting on final passage, senators must still deal with two contentious issues. But amendments that aren't central to the issue of financial regulation will not be considered.

The amendments that remain include a provision aimed at sparing auto dealers from being regulated by the proposed consumer financial protection agency.

Another amendment likely to come up for debate would strengthen provisions in the bill limiting commercial banks from doing high-risk proprietary trading outside of their customers' needs.

With reporting from NPR's Audie Cornish and The Associated Press.

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