SENATE MOVES FORWARD ON WALL STREET REFORM
Last week, the Senate took an important step forward in putting an end to Wall Street's recklessness and in protecting Americans from future financial meltdowns caused by greed, arrogance and irresponsibility. In passing the Restoring American Financial Stability Act , the Senate put strict new regulations in place to protect consumers and moved us closer to ending the era of "too big to fail." In December, the House passed its version of Wall Street reform legislation and now the two bills will need to be reconciled to work out the difference.
For years, the big banks and Wall Street CEOs stacked the deck to make sure they got billions in bonuses, all at the expense of their investors and - eventually - American taxpayers. The Senate bill protects investors, gives shareholders more of a voice, and grants the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) more authority.
It also restores responsibility and accountability in our financial system. It includes greater transparency that will help prevent future meltdowns and it gives American investors and businesses access to the information they need to make sound financial decisions. The Senate bill also ensures that American taxpayers will never again pay to bail out failing Wall Street firms and big banks.
At the heart of the financial meltdown were poor oversight and the belief that our financial system was invincible. This supposed invincibility extended to credit rating agencies such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's. The bubble did burst eventually. A full 91 percent of the securities given AAA ratings by such credit rating agencies in 2007 were later downgraded to junk status because they were backed by toxic subprime mortgages.
We can never let this happen again, and that is why I am pleased that my amendment to extend whistleblower protections to employees of the 10 national credit rating agencies was included in the Senate bill.
The final Senate bill was strengthened on the Senate floor with the passage of other important amendments offered by both Democrats and Republicans. Provisions that protect small businesses and community banks at the heart of this economic recovery were overwhelmingly supported. We passed amendments that will protect consumers and retailers from unfair credit card practices and will ensure that our men and women in uniform are protected through their own liaison within the proposed Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.
Maryland families are still hurting, as we work our way out of the greatest economic disaster our country has faced since the great Depression. But we are making progress in generating new jobs and spurring economic growth while also working to protect our economy and every American family from future crises.
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