US Passes Final Version of Financial Reform Overhaul

Washington, July 1 (DPA) The US House of Representatives Wednesday approved a final version of legislation that marks the largest overhaul of financial regulation since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

A key priority of President Barack Obama, the measure now moves back to the Senate, which will have to approve it one last time before it can be sent to Obama's desk for signature.

The 237-192 vote was mostly along party lines. Obama's left-leaning Democrats argued reforms are needed to prevent another credit crisis like that which engulfed Wall Street in 2008 and sparked a worldwide recession.

Most conservative Republicans derided the legislation as an unnecessary encroachment of government into the financial sector that could wind up endangering an already-fragile economic recovery.

The bill includes more oversight of little-regulated hedge funds and derivatives trading, adds more powers for the Federal Reserve to monitor major banks and protect consumers, and allows the government to take over and wind down systemically-important banks headed for bankruptcy.

"This bill is a massive intrusion of federal government into the lives of every American," said Congressman Spencer Bachus, the top Republican on the chamber's finance committee.

Congressman Barney Frank, the key architect of the bill, insisted the bill did not constitute "excessive" regulation: "We don't want these things overdone."

Passage was mostly assured in the House, where Democrats hold a comfortable majority. Its prospects are still less certain in the Senate, where Democrats need at least a few opposition Republicans to back the measure.

A vote in the Senate will likely have to wait until mid-July because of the death this week of long-time senator Robert Byrd, and because of a recess next week for the July 4 holiday.

The House vote came after lawmakers on Tuesday ironed out what may have been the final stumbling block to the bill's passage. Democrats agreed to leave out a 19-billion-dollar bank levy in order to pay for the overhaul, muting a key criticism of conservatives who argued the tax would adversely impact the economy.

The compromise could bring on board just enough Senate Republicans to get the measure approved. One key conservative, Senator Susan Collins, said Wednesday she would support the reforms. Another, Senator Scott Brown, said he was still deciding.

Both chambers passed differing versions of the financial overhaul bill earlier this year, then spent the last month haggling to reach agreement on a single version. The revamped bill must again be voted on by each chamber before Obama can sign it into law.


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