WASHINGTON – May 20, 2010 – A second cloture vote on Financial Regulatory Reform passed the U.S. Senate at about 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 20, 2010. With the exception of two contentious issues still to be resolved, Financial Reform is primed to pass the Senate and be referred to a House/Senate Conference Committee.
Further debate limited:
The cloture vote limits the time available for additional debate to 30 hours. No single Senator may speak for more than one hour. No new amendments may be filed.
The decisive votes:
The first vote failed by two votes. Two additional votes were needed to arrive at the three/fifths majority of the Senate required. The first vote was provided by Arlen Spector (D-PA), who lost his primary bid for re-nomination for a sixth senate term and was not present for the first vote. The second vote came from Scott Brown (R-MA) after receiving assurances that financial reform would not negatively affect small business in his state.
Finance reform favored in polls:
Financial reform is widely favored by the American people according to polling, but the amendment process and other news has clouded the final shape of the bill.
The two issues still to be decided are a proposed ban on commercial banks carrying out speculative trades with their own money and an exemption for auto dealers acting as finance companies from oversight of the new consumer protection bureau.
President Obama, last week, came out with determined opposition to the auto dealer exemption.
The White House position:
In an unusually blunt statement, the President said “The proposal would allow lenders to “inflate rates, insert hidden fees into the fine print of paperwork and include expensive add-ons that catch purchasers by surprise.” Obama characterized the proposal as an effort to protect special interests and weaken consumer protections.
“This amendment guts provisions that empower consumers with clear information that allows them to make the financial decisions that work best for them and simply encourages misleading sales tactics that hurt American consumers,” Obama said. “Unfortunately, countless families – particularly military families – have been the target of these deceptive practices,” said the President.
Al Portner is a former daily newspaper editor and publisher in seven states and author of the forthcoming “Mark Twain and the Tale of Grant’s Memoir.” Portner is also the proprietor of The Assignment Desk, LLC (www.theassignmentdesk.net) and provides writers, editors, and photographers for numerous kinds of contract projects from proposals and speeches to public relations and journalism. Reach him at email@example.com.
Al offers tips on writing well at http://bit.ly.PublicPolicyExaminer