Washington (CNNMoney.com) - Now that Wall Street reform has passed both chambers of Congress, the next step for lawmakers is to work out the differences.
Within days, congressional leaders will appoint members of the House and Senate to a special conference committee to meld two bills into one. The first negotiations are set to begin the week of June 7. After they reach agreement, each chamber will vote. The goal is to send final legislation to President Obama before the July 4 recess.
The good news: The two Wall Street reform bills have a lot in common.
Washington (CNN) - Moments after narrowly losing a key vote on the hotly contested Wall Street reform bill Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a news conference that another senator "broke his word with me."
It was a rare public rebuke of a fellow senator, and while Reid, D-Nevada, and his aides refused to identify the individual or provide specifics about the charge, other Senate aides from both parties said Reid was referring to Scott Brown, the new Republican senator from Massachusetts.
An aide to Brown confirmed that the senator had signaled to Reid he would vote for the motion to end debate on the financial regulations bill, but said it was conditioned on changes that had not been made by the time of the Wednesday's procedural vote.
"Harry Reid does not speak for Scott Brown. Scott Brown speaks for Scott Brown," Brown spokeswomen Gail Gitcho said in response to Reid's accusation."Bipartisanship is a two-way street."
Washington (CNNMoney.com) - The Senate is set Wednesday to take a crucial test vote on Wall Street reform amid signs that proponents may have secured enough votes for passage.
Democrats will begin voting at 2 p.m. ET to end debate on the legislation, which aims to stop bailouts, shine a light on complex financial products and strengthen consumer protection.
Proponents need 60 votes to pass the test. Passage would be an important barometer since only 51 votes would be needed for Senate approval of the final bill.
"There comes a time when we have to put this thing to rest," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Wednesday morning. "We've been on this bill for a month."
Reid has said senators, including some Republicans, have told him they favor ending debate.
One key lawmaker, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said that she planned to join Democrats voting to end debate, calling the overall month-long debate "fair and open," in a statement.
Washington (CNNMoney.com) - Wall Street is poised to score a victory in its efforts to beat back a crackdown on banks that trade the complex financial products known as derivatives.
On Tuesday, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., proposed a compromise change to the Wall Street reform bill that would water down a proposed ban on derivatives trading by many financial firms.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., has been a driver of the push on the swaps ban. Her measure ranks among the top hangups threatening final passage of the overall reform bill.
Lincoln was in Arkansas on Tuesday facing a tough primary election. Her spokeswoman said she would fight to keep the ban.
"Sen. Lincoln is fully committed to her provision and will fight efforts to weaken it," said Lincoln spokeswoman Katie Laning Niebaum. "Her proposal has received bipartisan support and she will defend it on the Senate floor."
Washington (CNNMoney.com) - The Senate is entering the final stretch of its work on the Wall Street reform bill, which aims to stop bailouts, shine a light on complex financial products and strengthen consumer protection.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on Monday that he would consider forcing a final vote later this week.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama and several members of Congress are drafting legislation for a new, $30 billion fund that would infuse community banks with capital specifically earmarked for small-business lending.
The plan is the latest spin on a proposal Obama first unveiled in October and touted in his State of the Union address. The idea went nowhere, thanks in part to the unpopularity of Obama's plan to fund the program with money from the Trouble Asset Relief Program. Congress didn't want TARP treated like a piggy bank, and community bankers didn't want the stigma of taking funds from a program known for Wall Street bailouts.
But small business lending remains a glaring trouble spot - a critical problem because small companies are traditionally the country's main generator of new jobs. Banks have slashed billions from credit lines, and small firms weakened by the recession are struggling to meet tighter underwriting standards.
Washington (CNNMoney.com) - Congress is mellowing toward the Federal Reserve.
Last fall, the Federal Reserve faced an onslaught of congressional efforts to curtail its powers. But this week, the Fed beat back two major checks on its authority in the Senate's Wall Street reform bill, which was tougher on the central bank than the House version.
The Senate voted 90-9 on Wednesday to strip from the overall reform bill a provision reshaping the Fed as supervisor of only the nation's largest banks. The Senate, agreeing with chairman Ben Bernanke, now plans no change in the Fed's current regulatory power over banks - which includes large banks and smaller, state-chartered banks that choose the Fed as their regulator.
"Monetary policy cannot and should not be geared toward large banks based primarily in New York and policy makers in Washington," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, an author of the measure. "The Federal Reserve needs insight to the health of our banking system and economy as a whole."
Additionally, the Senate voted 96-0 on Tuesday for a watered-down version of a provision subjecting the Fed to a one-time audit of its role making cheap loans to ailing Wall Street banks during the financial crisis. The original, more controversial, measure would have subjected the Fed to ongoing congressional investigations.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday the central bank is working to increase oversight of financial institutions, even as Congress debates a package of Wall Street reforms.
In a speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Bernanke said he "supports" ongoing efforts in Congress to reform financial regulation. But he added that the Fed is already taking steps to tighten up oversight of the banking system.
"While these legislative steps are necessary, we are not waiting to implement improvements that can be accomplished within our existing authority," he said.
"Now we are working with banks to ensure they improve their risk-measurement and risk management as well as strengthen their liquidity and capital levels while also providing the credit that households and businesses need," the Fed chairman added.
Bernanke said any reform package should give regulators the power to break up financial institutions that could threaten the economy if they fail.
Washington (CNNMoney.com) - Top senators on the banking panel released the details of a bipartisan deal on how to unwind big financial firms that are considered too big to fail.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said he's finished making changes to an amendment to the Wall Street reform bill that concerned Republicans like Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.
Dodd and Shelby reached an agreement in principle last week, and now the Senate will vote on this amendment later this afternoon.
Among the more significant changes, Democrats are officially dropping the tax on banks that would have funded a $50 billion pot of money that regulators could tap to help take down failing banks. Now the bill stipulates that banks will be taxed to pay unwinding banks after a collapse.
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