By Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to delay final action on a sweeping financial regulation bill, raising an obstacle to the legislation as it approached the home stretch.
The vote was 57-42, three votes shy of the 60 needed to pass. Three Democrats joined 39 Republicans in voting against the measure. Among them was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who switched his vote from yes for procedural reasons. Reid said he'd seek a new vote Thursday.
With Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., absent, Democrats needed one more vote to demonstrate to Republicans that they would eventually prevail and set the stage to pass the biggest rewrite of financial regulations since the Great Depression.
The legislation would set up a mechanism to watch out for risks in the financial system, create a method to liquidate large failing firms and write new rules for complex securities blamed for helping precipitate the 2008 economic crisis. It also would create a new consumer protection agency, a key point for President Barack Obama.
Republicans this week have escalated their attacks on the legislation, arguing the bill had grown worse and did not address root causes of the 2008 financial meltdown.The Democratic majority, said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, "uses this crisis as yet another opportunity to expand the cost and size and reach of government."
While the bill appears ultimately headed for final passage, Wednesday's vote put the end game in question, including the fate of several contentious amendments that remained unresolved.
Among them was a measure that would allow states to impose their interest rate caps on financial institutions that issue credit cards.
Currently, banks and credit card companies are only required to charge the interest rate permitted in the state where they are headquartered.