Obama administration praises early Senate financial bill

By Reuters Staff
November 4, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) attends a fundraiser for U.S. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) in Stamford, Connecticut, October 23, 2009.    By Karey Wutkowski
WASHINGTON, Nov 3 (Reuters) – The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee is poised to release a draft bill on financial regulatory reform that meets many of President Barack Obama’s core goals, but it is unclear if it will gain any Republican support, an administration official said on Tuesday.

The bill from committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, which could be released as soon as next week, contains provisions largely similar to those under consideration in the House of Representatives that would give the government new tools to dismantle troubled financial firms, the official said.

The official, who requested anonymity, said both the Senate and House have crafted good drafts, but added that the details will likely change a great deal before becoming law.

The official said the Senate is not far behind the House in its progress on financial reform, despite appearances that the Senate has been largely distracted by healthcare reform.

An aide to Dodd said on Tuesday he could release a draft financial reform bill as soon as next week. Dodd spokeswoman Kirstin Brost told Reuters the bill could be debated and possibly voted on “in full committee as early as the week of November 16.”

The House also issued a progress report on Tuesday, with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank saying that a vote by the full chamber may not come until early December.

The administration will continue to try to force the pace of reform, as Congress will likely craft a better bill if it does so with speed and while the pain of the financial crisis is fresh, the official said.

Signs of Republican support, however, are not clear or necessary to move forward, the official said.

Republicans have been especially forceful in their opposition to a proposal to create a new federal consumer agency that would police financial products. The banking industry and Republican lawmakers have argued such an agency would drive up costs and limit innovation.

The official would not comment on how Dodd’s bill differs from the portions of the House version that have moved forward, but did say the administration could accept a more aggressive consolidation of federal banking supervision.

Dodd has gone further than the administration in proposing that all such supervision be consolidated in one agency.

The administration’s proposal calls for merging the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision but would leave the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp with its supervisory powers.

The official said there are workable ways to further consolidate the banking regulators.
(Reporting by Karey Wutkowski; Editing by Dan Grebler) ((E-mail:karey.wutkowski@thomsonreuters.com; +1-202-898-8374))

Tuesday, 03 November 2009 18:29:18RTRS [nN03120710] {C}ENDS

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