By Kevin Drawbaugh
WASHINGTON, Dec 11 (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives approved the biggest changes in financial regulation since the Great Depression on Friday, marking a win for the Obama administration and top Democrats in Congress.
The sweeping bill, which will have to be reconciled with any measure the slower-moving Senate might eventually approve, aims to safeguard the financial system and ward off future crises of the type that punished the nation in the past year with its deepest recession since the 1930s.
The House voted 223-202 to pass the 1,279-page bill, which was hammered out in the months since last year’s crisis convinced Democrats of an urgent need for reform. All of the chamber’s Republicans and 27 Democrats voted against bill.
“This legislation brings us another important step closer to necessary, comprehensive financial reform that will create clear rules of the road, consistent and systematic enforcement of those rules, and a stronger, more stable financial system,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.
The bill would create an inter-agency council to police systemic risk in the economy, crack down on hedge funds and credit rating agencies, set up a financial consumer watchdog agency, and expose Federal Reserve monetary policy to unprecedented congressional scrutiny, among other reforms.