President Barack Obama on Tuesday secured the 60 votes he needs in the Senate to pass a sweeping overhaul of US financial regulations, all but ensuring that he soon will sign into law one of the top initiatives of his presidency.
Bill of fair practices
The 2,300-page bill aims to address regulatory weaknesses blamed for the 2008 financial crisis.
It gives regulators broad authority to rein in banks, limit risk-taking by financial firms and supervise previously unregulated trading.
It makes it easier to liquidate large, financially interconnected institutions.
It also creates a new consumer protection bureau to guard against lending abuses.
With the votes in hand to overcome Republican delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he hoped for final passage on Thursday. The House of Representatives already has passed the bill.
"This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses, it's good for the entire economy," Obama said as he prodded the Senate to act quickly.
Passage would represent a signature achievement for the president just four months after he signed massive health care legislation into law. The final vote comes amid lingering resentment by the American public of Wall Street, but the legislation's symbolic and political impact is likely to be diminished by anxiety across the country over jobs and the economy four months before congressional polls.
Reid as much as acknowledged that political reality Tuesday, blaming "greed on Wall Street" for the country's economic troubles.
"It triggered the recession," he said. "It's what suffocated the job market and robbed trillions of dollars of people's savings."
Support for the bill jelled Tuesday after Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson announced he would vote for the bill after raising concerns the previous day.