(CNN) - The Senate's top Republican on Tuesday called on Republicans to oppose the Democratic Wall Street reform bill because it does not adequately safeguard against the government's power to bail out massive banks in the future.
"If there is one thing Americans agree on when it comes to financial reform, it's absolutely sure they agree on this," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said in a speech on the Senate floor. "Never again should tax payers be expected to bail out Wall Street from its own mistakes. We cannot allow endless tax payer-funded bailouts for big wall street banks."
The 1,300-page bill, sponsored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, aims to create a new consumer regulator housed inside the Federal Reserve to ensure consumers get a fair shake with mortgages and credit cards. It would also push banks and financial firms to strengthen capital cushions and create a new process for taking down giant failing companies and preventing future Wall Street bailouts.
But McConnell suggested Tuesday that any new reform bill must include a categorical provision that the government will not bail out financial companies.
"The fact is this bill wouldn't solve the problems that led to the financial crisis; it would make them worse," McConnell said. "This bill not only allows for taxpayer-funded bailouts for Wall Street banks, it institutionalizes them."
The Dodd bill would steer big financial firms near collapse toward special bankruptcy proceedings, allowing them to wind down more quickly than under the existing system. The legislation would create a $50 billion resolution fund by taxing the largest firms. The fund would be used to pick up part of the tab for firms that need help beyond the bankruptcy system. The bill also holds out the possibility of additional taxes on large firms after a failed company has tapped the fund.
"No one honestly thinks $50 billion would be enough to cover the kind of crises we are talking about," McConnell said. "The mere existence of this fund will ensure that its get used."
- CNNMoney.com's Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report