) -- The passing of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) Monday at the age of 92 could complicate what appeared to be the certain passage of the banking reform bill agreed upon by the Conference Committee late last week.
"It is extremely unfortunate for the country that he passed, in light of his service to the country and the potential implications for the financial reform legislation," said Frank A. Mayer III, a partner with Pepper Hamilton LLP, who was involved in discussions on the Restoring American Financial Stability Act between several major banking industry players and members of Congress.
At this stage, the banking reform bill is still subject to up/down votes in the Senate and the House of Representatives. With Senate Democrats one-shy of a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority before Sen. Byrd passed, it may now be more likely that Republicans could attempt a filibuster to hold up a vote.
Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.), who supported an earlier version of the bill, said on Friday he was "extremely disappointed to hear that $18 billion in new assessments and fees were added in the wee hours of the morning by the conference committee." He added that he was still studying the final bill and how new costs to the financial industry would affect consumers.
Without Brown's vote, procedural moves against the banking reform bill are more likely, and in Mayer's view could lead members of the Senate to "delay a vote or just vote against it and begin a new process."
Of course, the Republicans might conclude that their supporters in the financial industry are already breathing a sigh of relief at the form of the final version of the bill, and allow it to pass.
CEO Vikram Pandit was fairly positive in a statement on Friday, saying he hoped "this agreement will provide direction and stability for the financial system going forward," and shares of the Big Six banks all rose after the news broke, especially
, rising 3.5% and 3.1% respectively.
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Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.
Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.