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S. 3217: Senate Schedules Cloture Vote

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Senate Democrats say the Senate will vote on whether to limit debate on S. 3217, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act bill, Wednesday.

If the supporters of S. 3217 win approval for the cloture motion, the Senate could hold a final vote on the bill by Friday.

Time for further floor debate on proposed amendments is running short, but insurer groups and producer groups still have a hope of getting changes and additions they want into a bipartisan manager’s amendment being crafted by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the highest-ranking Republican on the committee.

One provision still in play could make a state insurance regulator, a state banking regulator and a state securities regulator non-voting members of a proposed Systemic Risk Council. That change was proposed in an amendment offered by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Sen. Jeffrey Merkley, D-Oregon, has introduced an amendment that would scale back the ability of a proposed Office of National Insurance to preempt state insurance laws and regulations to resolve conflicts with international trade agreements.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is trying to win passage of an amendment that would eliminate the antitrust exemption afforded health insurers by the McCarran-Ferguson Act. Advocates of the amendment say it would stop health insurers from using acquisitions and collusion to increase health insurance premiums and cut provider reimbursement rates; critics say the bill advocates have misunderstood the way the exemption is applied, and that federal and state regulators already make aggressive efforts to prevent health insurers from fixing prices or forming monopolies.

Lobbyists for several insurance trade groups say the main impact of the Leahy amendment would be on medical malpractice insurers, auto insurers and workers compensation insurers that need to share claims data to set accurate rates.

The House already has passed a financial services bill, H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Congressional leaders hope to reconcile the differences between H.R. 4173 and the final version of S. 3217 and complete work on financial services legislation by late June.

For earlier coverage of S. 3217, please see S. 3217 May Be Nearing A Vote, Merkley S. 3217 Amendment Would Leash Insurance Office and S. 3217: A National Underwriter Guide To The Restoring Financial Stability Act Debate.


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