Financial Reform Becomes a Reality

By a 60-39 vote, the U.S. Senate has given financial reform (H.R. 4173) its seal of approval, setting the stage for President Obama to make broad, new financial rules regarding consumer protection, risky trading activities, and tougher regulations the law of the land.

The President is expected to sign the bill in a White House ceremony early next week.

The U.S. House of Representatives had already approved the bill June 28, but the bill stalled in the Senate after the death of strong reform advocate Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), and the reluctance by some potential backers like Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Me.).

But both Brown and Snowe climbed on board this week, along with Democratic holdout Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and that was enough to give Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) enough votes to push the financial reform bill over the top late Thursday.

"When this (economic) earthquake hit, there wasn't nearly enough oversight, transparency or accountability to shield us from the fallout," Reid said. "This law will strengthen all three."

The bill, more informally known as the Dodd-Frank bill, after co-sponsors Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), weighs in at a hefty 2,300 pages, complete with 533 new regulations, 60 studies and 94 reports.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce points out that the Dodd-Frank bill is more than 30 times the size of the last big financial reform bill coming out of Congress – 2002’s Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which required 16 new regulations and six new studies.

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