May 3, 2010, 7:25 am
By CARL HULSE
The Senate debate over putting new constraints on Wall Street gets serious this week, with lawmakers set to begin voting on changes to the measure being proposed by both Democrats and Republicans.
After Republicans last week relented and allowed Democrats to bring the legislation to the floor, lawmakers expect to spend at least the next two weeks reshaping the bill being guided by Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking Committee.
“I cannot promise that the final product will be a bill that all 100 senators will feel they can support,” Mr. Dodd told his colleagues last week. “I understand that. But my goal is to get the best, most effective legislation we can. My belief is we can make that happen by acting like senators, listening to each other, ensuring our debate is as civil as it is passionate, as factual as it is fierce.”
Mr. Dodd and Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the banking panel, said they may introduce a joint amendment early this week that would ease Republican complaints that the measure would still allow government bailouts of economically endangered firms. The Senate is also expected to vote quickly on an amendment by Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, that would expressly forbid the use of any taxpayer dollars to prevent the liquidation of a company.
Other Democrats intend to propose a change that would limit the size of banks to prevent them from becoming “too big to fail” while Republicans will be taking aim at the scope of a proposed new consumer agency.
“It is a power grab that can reach into virtually every aspect of our economy, and it needs to be restrained,” Mr. Shelby said.
In the House, Democratic leaders are scheduled to hold a forum on Tuesday with outside economists and budget experts on the state of the economy and what Congress could do to maintain current signs of improvement. The House is scheduled to vote later in the week on a measure that would provide federal incentives for energy saving home improvements. Known as the “cash for caulkers” bill, the measure is also seen as a way to boost business for home construction contractors.
The ongoing environmental crisis in the Gulf of Mexico due to the leaking oil well is certain to grab Congressional attention all week. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee plans to hear from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on the accident Thursday morning.
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'Too Big to Fail,' Consumer Agency Proposal on List of Amendments
The U.S. Senate is continuing consideration of amendments on financial regulation reform, the Wall St. Reform Bill (S. 3217). Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) amendment prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds to prevent the liquidation of a financial company may be voted on today. Reports indicate that Republicans will also submit amendments regarding the proposed consumer protection agency.