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House Passes Financial Reform Bill; Congress to Break for Byrd Funeral

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday night, June 30, passed the financial services reform bill in a 237 to 192 vote, largely along party lines. The Senate, however, has delayed its vote on the bill until Congress returns from recess on July 12.

After the House vote, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in a statement that “this is a strong bill. It will provide essential protections for consumers and investors and help make sure the financial system meets the credit needs of Main Street America. With action by the Senate, we will be able to turn our attention to putting these protections in place.”

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) released a statement after the House vote in which he said he congratulated “the House on being the first to pass the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.” Dodd said he is “anxious for the Senate to join them soon.”

Senate Democrats need at least four Republicans to vote for the bill because the death of Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) early June 28 left them with only 56 of the 60 votes needed to pass the bill. Two Democrats, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), and Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), are adamant about voting against the reform bill.

Members of Congress will be attending services for Byrd in Charleston, West Virginia, on Friday, July 2.

Democratic negotiators removed late on June 29 a $19 billion tax on big banks designed to help fund the bill that was inserted into the bill during the conference. Senator Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) said he would vote against the reform bill if the tax remained in the bill. Lawmakers revised the bill and instead opted to fund the Wall Street reform bill by ending the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and by charging an extra premium to large banks by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). It remains to be seen if the revised bill will win the votes of Brown and Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.