GOP quits blockade of banking controls
WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans abandoned their blockade against legislation to clamp tough new controls on Wall Street Wednesday, clearing a road to likely passage for the most sweeping rewrite of financial rules since the Great Depression.
Democrats and Republicans agree the Senate will ultimately pass landmark changes aimed at preventing a recurrence of the crisis that knocked the nation's financial system to its knees in 2008, but the battle now begins over crucial details. The House has already passed its version.
Democrats said the Republicans had given in after three days of votes to block debate, realizing they were on the losing end of a battle for public opinion. GOP lawmakers said they would now switch to trying to change the bill on the Senate floor.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said, "There's been immense pressure bottled up inside the Republican caucus through these last three votes. A lot of their members have been very deeply unhappy with the direction their leadership has been taking them. Better heads prevailed."
Democrats had threatened to hold the Senate in session all night making their case that the Republicans were stalling legislation of importance to virtually every American. The Democrats also have been laying plans to make the legislation a major issue in midterm elections this summer and fall. The Republican retreat came one day after senior executives of Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs were denounced by lawmakers from both parties at a marathon Senate hearing.
President Barack Obama, winding up a Midwest tour promoting the legislation, told reporters in Quincy, Ill., he was pleased the debate would proceed and that he hoped to sign a final version "very soon." That was unlikely to occur for at least two weeks.
"We'll end up having a safer, more secure financial system," Obama said, "and I think banks and other financial institutions can get back to making money the old-fashioned way by lending it to companies to build business and create jobs and do all the things we want our financial system to do."