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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

LeMieux votes against; Nelson for 'Wall Street reform' bill

The U.S. Senate tonight passed a sweeping financial regulatory bill. The vote was 59-39 and Florida split on party lines.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson voted yes. Republican Sen. George LeMieux voted no.

It still needs House approval but is a big victory for President Barack Obama, coming two months the health care overhaul became law. As the AP summarizes, the legislation aims to prevent a recurrence of the near-meltdown of big Wall Street investment banks and the resulting costly bailouts.

UPDATE: LeMieux issued a statement at 3 p.m. Friday. Read it below:

News release from LeMieux

“This bill represents another missed opportunity. The Congress failed to tackle increasing costs with health care reform and this bill fails to address the root causes of the recent economic crisis.  But for my amendment to write regulators’ over-reliance on credit ratings agencies out of federal law, this bill does nothing to address the problems that led to the crisis.”

LeMieux notes the bill does little to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises at the root of the recent financial crisis. The majority also rejected a LeMieux amendment to implement minimum mortgage underwriting standards, such as requiring borrowers to provide proof of income and put down at least five percent equity for a home loan. In addition, instead of tightening regulations on Wall Street firms, the bill grows the size of the federal government by setting up a new bureau with the power to regulate the conduct of any person offering a “consumer financial product or service.”  In just its first year of existence, the new office is expected to cost more than $400 million with the power to regulate any merchant, retailer, doctor, dentist, veterinarian, or other business that allows its customers to pay in more than 4 monthly installments or assesses late fees.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:38am]


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