WASHINGTON - The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved far-reaching new financial regulations, but Senate leaders postponed a similar vote on the bill, preventing the landmark legislation from reaching President Barack Obama's desk until at least mid July.
House members voted 237-192 just before 7 p.m. to approve the sweeping 2,300-page bill, which among other things would create an independent consumer bureau within the Federal Reserve to protect borrowers from lending abuses, establish oversight of the vast derivatives market and enable the government to wind down large, failing firms. Obama hailed the vote as "a victory for every American who has been affected by the recklessness and irresponsibility that led to the loss of millions of jobs and trillions in wealth."
The vote broke largely along party lines but attracted more support than in December, when no Republicans voted for the House version of the bill. The new legislation combines the House bill with one passed by the Senate last month.
"Today, I rise with a clear message that the party is over," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared. "No longer again will recklessness on Wall Street cause joblessness on Main Street. No longer will the risky behavior of the few threaten the financial stability of our families, our businesses and our economy as a whole."
Republicans portrayed the bill as a vast overreach of government power that would do little to prevent future bailouts of failing financial institutions. They complained that it failed to place tighter restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants forced into huge federal bailouts after their questionable lending helped trigger the housing and economic meltdowns.
"This legislation is a clear attack on capital formation in America," said Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second-ranking House Republican. "It purports to prevent the next financial crisis, but it does so by vastly expanding the power of the same regulators who failed to stop the last one."
Only three Republicans voted for the bill: Joseph Cao of Louisiana, Mike Castle of Delaware and Walter Jones of North Carolina. Nineteen Democrats voted against it, eight fewer than in December.
This report contains information from the Associated Press and the Washington Post.