Another Vote Today on Financial Reform

By Libby Casey

The U-S Senate yesterday voted not to take up a financial regulations overhaul bill, and Alaska’s Senators have very different – and strong – reactions.  All Republicans and one Democrat blocked moving forward with debate.   Another vote is planned for today. 

Senator Mark Begich and 56 other Democrats voted to move ahead (two other Democrats did not vote).  Begich says the bill’s core is good, and will protect consumers, regulate big financial institutions, and prevent future taxpayer bailouts of banks once deemed “too big to fail.”  He says there’s no reason to stall.

I think American people, Alaskans, should be outraged.  And somewhat disappointed.  Because we came here to do the business.  I’m all for the great debates on these issues.  And like I said there will be some ideas they’ll have that I’ll like, there will be ideas of colleagues on my side will have I may not like.  But if we don’t have an open debate… what we’re doing now is we’re debating the ability to debate.  The American public should be sick and tired of it.

Begich says the bill should at least get to the floor, and then Republicans can offer amendments:

It’s not about what’s in the bill, it’s just allows debate. So it’s amazing to me, and I heard it, they want to negotiate, we want more negotiations. Great, allow us to go to the floor.  Bring your ideas.  Put them in the plain view of the public rather than behind closed doors with your Wall Street friends.

Senator Lisa Murkowski says she too wants to rein-in Wall Street – and says the American people are mad about the power big banks have wielded.  But she voted against bringing the bill to the floor, and says more work needs to be done before it’s bipartisan and ready.

I’m a big believer in committee process, I’m a big believer in trying to negotiate some of the big ticket items rather than to do this on the floor.  Trying to run amendments on the floor to change a bill, yes it is part of the process, and that’s good and that’s it’s important, you need to go in with a good base bill.  This was the same problems we faced with healthcare.  Some many of us didn’t think base bill they went to floor with was good.

Despite the partisan rancor surfacing comments coming from Capitol Hill, there is a window for bipartisan cooperation to emerge.  The top two Senators on the Banking Committee are working together to address areas of conflict.  Murkowski says they should get more time.

I want to give the ranking member and the chairman of the banking committee the opportunity to build a bipartisan bill to address the problems that caused the meltdown in the financial markets that occurred 18 months ago.  So to try to force through to the floor a bill that’s not quite ready for prime time is not what we should be doing.

A third vote on whether to bring the bill to the Senate floor for debate is expected midday today.  The 14-hundred page bill would give the government the ability to shut down big failing firms before they collapse… it would regulate derivates, set up a consumer protection agency against abusive lending practices, and set up a council of regulators to guard against risks in the financial system.


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