Sen. Brown throws Wall Street reform into turmoil with bank tax opposition
US lawmakers were poised Tuesday to scrap a 19-billion-dollar bank fee from a major Wall Street overhaul bill following Republican objections to the measure, a source familiar with legislative efforts said.
The meeting of House and Senate lawmakers was to take place at 2100 GMT, with an eye to scrapping the controversial bank tax, the congressional source said.
On Friday, US lawmakers agreed on a sweeping financial reform bill, ending marathon negotiations aimed a creating legislation that would prevent another economic crisis.
But the death this week of a prominent Democrat, Senator Robert Byrd, cast doubt on plans for the swift passage of the bill, depriving Democrats of a vital vote in the bitterly divided Senate.
Republican Senator Scott Brown said in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate that he held “strong opposition” to the measure which was not in the Senate version of the bill he had supported, and that he would change his vote if the fee is included.
“It is especially troubling that this provision was inserted in the conference report in the dead of night without hearings or economic analysis,” Brown said.
“While some will try to argue this isn’t a tax, this new provision takes real money away from the economy, making it unavailable for lending on Main Street, and gives it to Washington. That sounds like a tax to me.”
Leaders hope to secure final passage of the bill before the Independence Day holiday break at the end of this week, as President Barack Obama has requested.
Being discussed by lawmakers is a plan that would allow funds allocated from the 2008 bailout of the financial sector and not used to be allocated under the new bill.
The hard-fought reform bill was struck more than two years after a financial crisis pushed the global economy into the worst recession since World War II.
The overhaul, which faces votes in the Senate and the House of Representatives, takes aim at the practices and regulatory loopholes accused of undermining the global financial system.
It creates a new consumer financial protection agency, an early-warning system to predict and prevent the next crisis and ends government bailouts of “too-big-to-fail” companies, say backers of the measure.