Iowa’s two U.S. senators split along party lines in Monday night’s vote to bring a financial overhaul bill up for debate. Democrat Tom Harkin favors the bill; Republican Chuck Grassley opposes it. Part of the legislation would require derivatives, or bets on commodities futures, to be traded in open exchanges and cleared through a third party.
During a Senate Ag Committee vote last week dealing with limits on derivatives, Grassley was the only Republican to join 12 Democrats in approving the measure. Last night, Grassley voted against debating the larger bill.
Grassley says, “This week, I hope to see a commitment by the Democrat leadership to work for a financial regulatory reform bill that can win substantial bipartisan support and achieve meaningful reform of the status quo.” Grassley says there needs to be more transparency to bring about accountability in the financial industry.
“I’ve got great concern about some provisions in the pending bill, even considering that this strong derivatives provision might be, and I expect it will be, added to the Dodd bill,” Grassley says. “As an example, the proposed bank fund would lead to more government bailouts at taxpayers’ expense.”
He says that’s “setting a bad example that the federal government will be there to bail you out.” Grassley says that doesn’t bring about good financial management. He says he’s against other elements in the bill, too, like a plan to establish a new government watchdog office just for the financial industry.
Grassley says, “The proposed consumer protection agency would create a new federal bureaucracy, potentially undermining the role of other agencies to protect the safety and soundness of our financial system.” He says more consumer protection is needed, but that would be best achieved through empowering existing agencies.
Democrat Harkin says, in a news release, the legislation “would restrain the excessive risk taking that endangered our financial system and that would protect consumers from further gambling by Wall Street.” Even Harkin says he has “concerns” about the bill, but notes, “we cannot move forward and strengthen it unless we begin debate.” Democrats need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster. Among the opponents to the debate last night was Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson, who voted with the Republicans.