After an expected lengthy markup period turned out to only take 21 minutes, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs passed the sweeping financial reform bill originally introduced by its chairman, Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT). It now heads to the floor for consideration by the full Senate.
The bill passed the committee by a 13-10 vote which fell strictly along party lines. Republicans had originally proposed over 400 amendments to the bill, but chose not to introduce them during markup. Considering the size and scope of the bill, some committee members were rankled at the brevity of the debate period and were quick to criticize.
"It is pretty unbelievable that after two years of hearings on arguably the biggest issue facing our panel in decades, the committee has passed a 1,300 page bill in a 21 minute, partisan markup. I don't know how you can call that anything but dysfunctional," said Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), a freshman Senator who Dodd had worked with prior to introducing the bill. Corker voted against the measure.
Still, statements from Dodd and Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) left Corker hopeful that debate and negotiations on the bill would continue on the Senate floor. "The optimistic comments from the chairman and ranking member, along with the actions of some of my colleagues on the committee, give me hope that there is still an opportunity to produce a sound piece of legislation that will merit broad bipartisan support from the full Senate and stand the test of time," he said. "My staff and I will continue to put forth the same efforts we have over the past few months toward that end."
Additionally, in a recent speech in Washington, D.C., Dodd's bill received an endorsement from U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. In an address to the American Enterprise Institute, Geithner urged lawmakers not to water down the existing legislation. "When you see amendments designed to weaken the basic protections of reform; when you see amendments to exempt certain types of financial firms or financial instruments from rules; ask why we should be protecting those private interests at the expense of the public interest," he said. "The test we face is whether we enact real reforms that provide strong protection for consumers, strong constraints on risk taking by large institutions, and strong tools to protect the economy and taxpayers from future crises."
"We will not accept a bill that does not meet that test," Geithner added.
Jacob Barron, NACM staff writer