The Senate passed the final version of new financial regulations yesterday. Senator Chuck Grassley voted against the cloture motion to allow the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 to come to the floor, and later voted against the bill itself, as did all Senate Republicans except for Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. Senator Tom Harkin voted to overcome the Republican filibuster attempt and for the bill itself, as did all other Senate Democrats except Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.
Grassley had joined Snowe, Collins and Brown in voting for the Senate’s original financial reform bill in May. After the jump I’ve posted Grassley’s official statement explaining his reasons for opposing the bill that emerged from the House/Senate conference committee.
Statements from Harkin and Grassley’s Democratic opponent, Roxanne Conlin, are also posted below.
Alison Vekshin of Bloomberg News and Annie Lowrey of the Washington Independent briefly summarized the bill’s provisions; click here for the full text. On balance, passing this bill is better than doing nothing, but too many important reforms were excluded from the package or watered down in conference. I also agree with former Clinton cabinet official Robert Reich, who argued here that the bill is too narrow in scope:
The White House and Democratic leaders could have described the overarching goal as overhauling economic institutions that bestow outsize rewards on a relative few while imposing extraordinary costs and risks on almost everyone else. Instead, they have defined the goal narrowly: reducing risks to the financial system caused by particular practices on Wall Street. The solution has thereby shriveled to a set of technical fixes for how the Street should conduct its business.
Share any thoughts about financial reform in this thread. Conlin appears likely to bring this up repeatedly in her campaign against Grassley. One of her campaign’s statements released yesterday noted that so far in this election cycle, “Grassley has taken close to $900,000 in campaign contributions from Wall Street bankers and their PACs.”
UPDATE: House Democrat Barney Frank was one of the key architects of this bill. He discusses some of its high and low points here.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, who is retiring this year, shared some of his parting thoughts with The Fiscal Times:
But I leave more discontented when I came here because of the terrible things that have been done to this economy by political leaders who allowed Wall Street to turn Wall Street banks into gambling casinos which damned near destroyed the economy.
I think the more important thing was what was my biggest failure. I think our biggest failure collectively has been our failure to stop the ripoff of the middle class by the economic elite of this country, and this is not just something that happened because of the forces of the market.