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Senate Aligns House Financial Regulatory Reform Bill

When the Senate voted late last night to pass S 3217, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act, it approved a version of financial regulatory reform that differs slightly from the House of Representatives' original version of the bill. The Senate version includes amendments that impose leverage and risk-based capital requirements, assign credit-rating agencies to deals, exempt qualifying mortgages from credit risk retention requirements, require lenders to maintain certain underwriting standards and call for a one-time audit of emergency lending actions at the Fed. “The two bills are very similar, and the House is ready to go to conference to work out the remaining issues," said Rep Barney Frank (D-MA) in a statement following the Senate vote. "I am confident that we can have a bill ready for President Obama’s signature very soon." The Senate on Thursday considered House Resolution (HR) 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, sponsored by Frank. The House version of the bill aims to improve accountability and transparency in the financial system, end "too big to fail," end taxpayer-funded bailouts and protect consumers from abusive financial services practices. As of today, HR 4173 was listed in a "resolving differences" status. On Thursday, Senators struck everything in the bill after its enacting clause and substituted the language of S 3217. Senators also voted to change the title, and then passed HR 4173 in a 59-39 vote that fell largely along party lines. Four Republicans (Sen Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Sen Susan Collins of Maine, Sen Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen Olympia Snowe of Maine) joined the vote for HR 4173, while a single Democrat, Sen Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, voted against it. Write to Diana Golobay.

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