- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Senate on Thursday approved and sent to President Obama a landmark bill to rein in unregulated Wall Street markets for the first time and cover the financial landscape with an intricate new thicket of regulation.

The Senate approved the bill, 60-39. After a nearly two-year journey through Congress, dozens of hearings and hundreds of speeches, the massive measure picked up only a handful of moderate Republican votes while relying on large Democratic margins in both houses to deliver one of Mr. Obama’s top priorities to his desk.

The White House immediately hailed the legislation as a victory over Wall Street greed that Democrats can tout in upcoming congressional elections. But the House’s top Republican, Minority Leader John A. Boehner, vowed that, with a possible Republican takeover of the lower chamber in November, one of his first moves will be to try to repeal the law.

The bill started out as a vehicle to subject the gigantic $670 trillion derivative securities markets to federal regulation and public trading for the first time while giving federal regulators the tools they need to dismantle failing financial giants like American International Group rather than bail them out in the future.

But as it made its way through Congress, the bill accumulated hundreds of provisions unrelated to its original mission while, critics say, failing to address major causes of the mortgage meltdown that led to the 2008 financial crash and bailouts.

Mr. Obama plans to sign the bill into law next week, making it one of his most important achievements since taking office, along with health care reform and last year’s $862 billion economic stimulus bill.

But enactment marks only the beginning, as the 2,300-page bill requires federal agencies to promulgate an estimated 533 new rules and conduct 60 studies with an eye toward regulating everything from Wall Street credit-rating agencies to the street-corner lenders who give workers advances on their payroll checks.

The long regulatory process will extend for possibly years the battle between Wall Street, banks, unions and consumer groups that characterized the congressional debate, with many of the controversial provisions likely ending up in the courts for final judgment.

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