Final Financial Reform Bill Passes Houses

WASHINGTON -- The House adopted legislation earlier this week to revamp the nation’s financial regulatory system, and passed the final version of the financial reform bill in a 237-192 vote, The New York Times reported.

President Obama in his State of the Union speech said the measure embodied one of the highest priorities of his administration: “serious financial reform.”

“If this bill were to fail,” the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said, “We would be preserving a status quo that has left our economy in a wretched state.” To symbolize its importance, Pelosi personally gaveled the vote to a close, according to the report.

The Senate is also expected to approve the measure, but majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada said he would not be able to schedule a vote until after Congress returned from a weeklong recess for the Fourth of July, the report stated. Obama had wanted the bill completed and on his desk by Independence Day.

The bill gives government regulators the authority to liquidate failing financial companies by breaking them apart, selling assets and forcing creditors and shareholders to take losses so that taxpayers do not pay the bill, the Times reported. The legislation also expands the Federal Reserve's regulatory powers, creates a powerful new consumer financial protection bureau and widens the scope of the Securities and Exchange Commission to broaden regulation of hedge funds and credit rating agencies, among other measures, according to the report.

Retail industry associations applauded the passage.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association's (RILA) Senior Vice President of Government Affairs John Emling said: "RILA applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for standing up to big bank interests by passing meaningful reforms, which will benefit Main Street merchants and consumers. … The resulting compromise represents a major step in the right direction for those who accept credit and debit cards."

He added: "By focusing narrowly on financial institutions at that heart of the problem, the swipe fee reforms … address the out-of-control fees, while excluding smaller banks and credit unions from reforms. The House's passage of swipe fee reform moves consumers and retailers, small and large, one step closer to real relief from the excessive swipe fees charged by credit card companies and the big banks."

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