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Brown remains uncommitted after fix to bank bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite lawmakers’ last-minute change to win his vote, Republican Sen. Scott Brown said Wednesday he needs more time to study a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations before committing his vote.
His stance leaves Democrats short, for now, of the 60 votes they need to overcome procedural hurdles to the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate will have to wait until after the weeklong July 4 congressional break to take up the bill.
Congressional Democrats have been inching closer to passage of a major rewrite of financial industry regulations, making fixes as they go in hopes of securing the votes of straying Republicans.
On Tuesday, House and Senate negotiators reconvened to remove a $19 billion fee on large banks and hedge funds after Mr. Brown threatened to vote against the bill. Mr. Brown, of Massachusetts, supported a Senate version of the bill last month but said he objected to the fee, inserted by negotiators last week.
In a statement Wednesday, Mr. Brown said he appreciated the removal of the fee, but said he would review the bill over next week’s recess.
“I remain committed to putting in place safeguards to prevent another financial meltdown, ensure that consumers are protected, and that this bill is paid for without new taxes,” he said.
In an advance text of his remarks in Racine, Wis., Mr. Obama took aim at House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio for remarking in a newspaper interview that the financial regulation bill was like using a nuclear weapon on an ant.
“If the Republican leader is that out of touch with the struggles facing the American people, he should come here to Racine and ask people if they think the financial crisis was an ant,” Mr. Obama said.
House and Senate Democrats had already made changes to the bill to ensure Mr. Brown’s vote, adding exceptions to limits on bank trading that would help Massachusetts financial institutions such as Boston-based State Street Corp., a bank holding company with about $150 billion in assets.
The death of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, this week and fresh objections from Mr. Brown and Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine had threatened to derail the bill, already a year in the making. Mr. Brown, Ms. Snowe and Ms. Collins were three of 61 senators who had previously backed a Senate version of the bill.
Eager to salvage one of Mr. Obama’s legislative priorities, Democrats dropped the fee that would have helped pay for the legislation. Banks with assets of over $50 billion and hedge funds with assets of more than $10 billion would have footed the bill.
Instead, House and Senate negotiators, voting along party lines, agreed to pay for the bill with $11 billion generated by ending the unpopular Troubled Asset Relief Program — the $700 billion bank bailout created in the fall of 2008 at the height of the financial scare.
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
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Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
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White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow