Brown Backs Wall Street Reform Bill, Brings Bill Within One Vote of Passage

By Alex Pepper

Jul 12, 2010 12:55pm

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports: Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown today voiced his support for the Wall Street reform bill, bringing Democrats to within one vote of securing final passage for the biggest overhaul of the financial system since the Great Depression. “While it isn't perfect, I expect to support the bill when it comes up for a vote,” Brown said in a statement Monday. “It includes safeguards to help prevent another financial meltdown, ensures that consumers are protected, and it is paid for without new taxes. That doesn't mean our work is done. Further reforms are still needed to address the government’s role in the financial crisis, including significant changes to the way Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac operate.” Brown’s support means Democrats are now only one vote short of the 60 they need to overcome Republican filibusters in the Senate. That final vote to push them over the edge could come from one of two Republicans – Iowa’s Chuck Grassley or Maine’s Olympia Snowe – who have yet to say how they will vote. If both of those lawmakers decide to oppose the measure, Democrats would then have to wait until a replacement is named for the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Brown’s backing for the financial reform effort signals the end to a long back-and-forth. Brown had initially voted in favor of the bill when the Senate version passed in May, but when House and Senate lawmakers earlier this month met in conference to combine the two separate bills, they added a $19 billion bank tax that caused Brown to switch his stance and oppose the bill. Since Democrats sorely needed Brown’s vote to pass the bill, the conference committee then went back into session and removed the tax in an effort to win the Massachusetts lawmaker’s support. In lieu of the bank tax, conference committee lawmakers decided to wind down the $700 billion TARP bailout early – a move that would generate an estimated $11 billion in savings – and raise FDIC premiums on banks with over $10 billion in assets, a change that would recoup another $5.7 billion. With the bank tax out, Brown then spent the Senate’s Independence Day recess making up his mind on how to vote. “I've spent the past week reviewing the Wall Street reform bill,” he said Monday. “I appreciate the efforts to improve the bill, especially the removal of the $19 billion bank tax. As a result, it is a better bill than it was when this whole process started.” If Democrats can now find that one final vote they need to reach the 60-vote threshold, the Senate could vote on the bill as soon as later this week. If passed, it would then move on to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature. -Matthew Jaffe

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