WASHINGTON BUREAU — Members of the Senate today voted 60-40 to limit debate on S.A. 3739, the substitute version of S. 3217, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act bill.
RASFA bill backers were 2 votes shy of winning approval for cloture Wednesday. The vote limits further debate on amendments to 30 hours. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would make an effort to complete work on the bill by Thursday night.
The Senate has now passed the bill 59-39 and renamed it H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. For our latest financial services bill coverage, please see S. 3217 Becomes H.R. 4173, Passes In Senate.
Reid wants to wrap up work on S. 3217 so that the Senate can start to work on legislation that would restore several small business tax credits that expired in December. The Senate also is looking at extending other programs with authorizations that are set to expire by the end of the month. Senate leaders hope to complete work on those efforts by May 28, before Congress is scheduled to leave for the Memorial Day recess.
Today, Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., who was absent Wednesday, returned to the Senate and voted for the bill. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., switched to supporting cloture, from opposing it.
Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, also voted for cloture. Two Democrats — Maria Cantwell of Washington and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin — voted against cloture, arguing that the current version of the bill would do too little to prevent the kinds of activities that led to the current economic problems.
Backers of S.A. 3739 and S. 3217 need only 51 votes to pass the amendment and the underlying bill, but they need 60 votes to use cloture motions to limit debate. If Senate supporters of a bill do not get a limit on debate, opponents can block passage by engaging in an endless round of debate, or filibuster.
The substitute version of S. 3217 contains provisions that could lead to new, federal regulatory oversight for large, troubled insurers; impose new consumer protection requirements on annuity sellers; and create a federal insurance office at the U.S. Treasury Department.
The Senate today rebuffed efforts to approve S.A. 3920, S.A. 3920, an amendment that would prevent the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from implementing Rule 151A and regulating indexed annuities as securities.
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the party affiliation of Scott Brown was misidentified. Brown is a Republican.