House, Senate Make a Deal on Financial Reform

By Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — One year in the making, a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street rules forged in the aftermath of a financial crisis cleared congressional negotiations early Friday and headed to the House and Senate for final votes.

Lawmakers hope to have a bill on President Barack Obama's desk by July 4.

Success came at 5:39 a.m., hours after Obama administration officials helped broker a deal that cracked the last impediment to the bill — a proposal to force banks to spin off their lucrative derivatives trading business.

The legislation, the most ambitious rewrite of financial regulations since the Great Depression, touches on an exhaustive range of financial transactions, from a debit card swipe at a supermarket to the most complex securities deals cut in downtown Manhattan.

Eager to avoid a recurrence of the 2008 financial meltdown, lawmakers set up a warning system for financial risks, created a powerful consumer financial protection bureau to police lending, forced large failing firms to liquidate and set new rules for financial instruments that have been largely unregulated.

"It took a crisis to bring us to the point where we could actually get this job done," Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said.

In its breadth, the legislation would affect working class homebuyers negotiating their first mortgage as well as international finance ministers negotiating international regulatory regimes.

The bill came together in during a time of high unemployment for American workers, huge bonuses for bankers and rising antipathy toward bank bailouts.

"It is reassuring to know that when public opinion gets engaged it will win," said Rep. Barney Frank, the chairman of the House-Senate panel that merged House and Senate bills into one piece of legislation.

House negotiators voted a party line 20-11 in favor of the final agreement; senators voted 7-5, also along party lines.

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