The Senate passed a sweeping financial regulatory reform bill on Thursday by a 60-39 margin after three Republicans joined all but one Democrat in supporting the Wall Street overhaul.
The bill will now go to President Obama for his signature. The more than 2,300-page bill contains a wide array of provisions intended to prevent some of the abuses that led to the financial crisis. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, named after Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., contains far-reaching reforms of the financial system, including the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau within the Federal Reserve and resolution authority for dismantling large failing banks.
The bill also provides for regulation of auditors of broker-dealers by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and exempts smaller public companies with a market cap of under $75 million from Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404(b) audits of management's assessment of internal controls. CPAs and tax preparers are exempted from regulation by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, and CPAs may be called upon to assist in audits of the bureau by the Comptroller General.
Three Republicans, Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, joined Democrats in voting for the bill. One Democrat, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, joined Republicans in voting against the bill, saying the bill would fall short of preventing another financial crisis.
"The reckless practices of Wall Street sent our economy reeling, triggered the worst recession since the Great Depression, and left millions of Americans to foot the bill," he said in a statement. "Despite these cataclysmic events, Washington once again caved to Wall Street on key issues and produced a bill that fails to protect the American people from the pain of another economic disaster."
The bill was heavily lobbied by the financial industry and other sectors, which succeeded in weakening some key parts of the bill, including new derivatives regulations. Lobbying efforts are now expected to turn to the various regulatory agencies that will devise the complex rules for carrying out the provisions of the bill.
The Financial Services Roundtable indicated that this would be its goal. The Roundtable has neither endorsed nor opposed the total bill in its current form, said president and CEO Steve Bartlett. As an omnibus bill, there is plenty here to like and a good bit to question. We accept the reality of this legislation as a statutory framework for regulatory structure. Our goal is to turn our attention from the uncertainty of legislative action to the certainty of the industrys commitment to make reform work, to take these legislative changes, and the regulatory changes to follow, and make reform work for the American economy.
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