By Kevin Drawbaugh
WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives approved a procedural rule on Wednesday that cleared the way for floor debate to begin on legislation that would give the government broad new powers over large financial firms and tighten bank and capital market regulation.
In a 235-177 vote, Democrats pushed through the rule, with only a handful from their own ranks voting in opposition, after settling differences among themselves over more than 200 proposed amendments. All Republicans voting opposed the rule.
President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats see financial regulation reform as crucial to preventing a repeat of last year’s financial crisis and the taxpayer bailouts that followed of companies such as AIG and Citigroup.
On Thursday, lawmakers are expected to propose a flood of amendments to the 1,279-page bill, hammered out over months of discussion and compromise at the committee level.
House leaders hope to bring the measure to a final vote by Friday, before the holiday break. Approval in the House, which analysts widely expect, would throw the financial reform agenda into the Senate where debate will likely go well into 2010.