The Senate will debate a Republican amendment today that would tighten the scope of a proposed consumer protection agency.
Amendment sponsor Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), has argued that the current language for the consumer agency is too sweeping and would include almost any business that deals in credit, including dentists and orthodontists who want to allow their patients to pay a bill over time.
Once Shelby's amendment is completed, lawmakers will turn to another proposal that would require an audit of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet.
The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), which has bipartisan support, calls for the General Accounting Office to look at more than $2 trillion in mortgage-backed securities the Fed has purchased to ease the housing crisis. Sanders amendment calls for information to be released on which financial firms received the funds, how much and under what terms.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has refused to turn over the information and is appealing two federal court rulings requiring release of documents connected to the assets.
The Senate approved four amendments Wednesday and Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said while that was a "pretty good beginning" he has received 95 amendments and he asked Senators to be disciplined on how much time they require for amendments. He thought there were several amendments that he could easily accept and would discuss those with this Banking panel counterpart Shelby to speed up the floor process.
Another pending amendment by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) would redefine the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's assessment base that aims to shift the burden to big banks and away from small, community banks.