Debate Begins on Senate Financial Reform Bill

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Debate on the sweeping financial reform legislation proposed by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., will finally begin Thursday. The bill stalled earlier this week when Democrats could not muster the 60 votes needed to begin debate by the full Senate.


At the time, problems Republicans had with the bill included a new financial agency focused on consumer protection, new rules and procedures for closing failed or failing financial institutions, and stiffer regulation of derivatives trading. After days of negotiations, the parties agreed they had reached an impasse such that further negotiation would not yield results.


Boston.com quotes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as follows:

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.

Dodd advised his colleagues that debate on the bill, which is intended to prevent a repeat of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, should be "serious" and "vigorous."


Although language creating a $50 billion fund that would be used to "liquidate failing financial institutions" was dropped from the proposed legislation, the story says both parties are expecting a fight on the Senate floor. Republicans reportedly plan to introduce several amendments.


Of particular interest to smaller public companies is a measure promised by South Carolina's James DeMint that would exempt them from the auditor attestation requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley 404(b). The House version of financial reform, which passed in December, includes a similar provision.