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Senate Republicans Ready to Debate Financial Reform

April 28, 2010

Senate Republicans have signaled their intention to allow debate to begin on the sweeping financial regulatory reform bill.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the ranking Republican member of the Senate Banking Committee, indicated that negotiations with his colleague, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., have reached an impasse. This won’t be the first time. Dodd had introduced his version of the legislation after concluding that negotiations with Shelby and another Republican member of the committee, Bob Corker, R-Tenn., had reached earlier impasses.

“I believe we owed the American people our best effort to make whatever changes we could to this incredibly complex piece of legislation because it will have wide ranging implications for our economy,” said Shelby in a statement. “Chairman Dodd has assured me that he will address a number of concerns I have expressed with respect to ending bailouts.  We have been unable, however, to make any meaningful progress on other important components of the legislation.  It is now my belief that further negotiations will not produce additional results.”

So far, the Republicans have blocked debate thrice on the bill, with the help of Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson, even in the midst of the contentious hearing on Tuesday with executives from Goldman Sachs. Democrats wanted to force a fourth vote to invoke cloture on Wednesday and threatened to keep the Senate in session all night if necessary.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., has indicated that he too is now ready for the Senate to begin debating the bill. 

“Unfortunately, Sen. Shelby believes that continued talks on a number of provisions affecting Main Street will not bring the negotiators any closer to an agreement," he said in a statement. "Now that those bipartisan negotiations have ended, it is my hope that the majority’s avowed interest in improving this legislation on the Senate floor is genuine and the partisan gamesmanship is over.  I remain deeply troubled by a number of provisions in this bill and will work aggressively in the days ahead to ensure that the majority does not use our mutual interest in regulating Wall Street to extend the federal government’s unwanted hand into Main Street.”

Lawmakers are expected to introduce a number of amendments, some of which could directly affect accountants. They could include changes in Sarbanes-Oxley 404(b) internal controls audit requirements for smaller public companies, as well as liability provisions. Let the debates begin.

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