Dodd: Big bank limits threaten reform

The Obama administration's new proposals to clamp down on big banks are threatening progress in the Senate on wide-ranging fincancial reform, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said on Tuesday.

Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, told Paul Volcker, an adviser to President Barack Obama, and Neal Wolin, the Treasury No. 2, that there are only so many proposals the Senate can consider as part of a reform package.

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The administration unveiled a new proposal last week aimed curbing excessive risk-taking at big banks by preventing them from conducting proprietary trading.

"While I have certainly been familiar with the issue of dealing with proprietary trading and other issues, it does come up late, and the idea that the administration made such a major point a week or so ago, seemed to many to be transparently political and not substantive," Dodd said at the end of the hearing. "And it's adding to the problems of trying to get a bill done."

The House passed a financial reform package in December, and the Senate banking panel has been working -- mostly behind closed doors -- to craft a biparisan bill. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the panel, opposes significant measures backed by the Obama administration, including the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).

Action in the Senate has been bogged down for many months now, and Dodd expressed his frustration that the administration's new proposals are only further complicating matters.

"I don't want to be in a position where we end up doing nothing because we tried to do too much at a critical moment," Dodd said, adding that he wants to pass a bipartisan bill.

"I don't want to go to the floor of the United States Senate begging for a 60th vote. I'm not going to do that. So I want you to know that as we go forward," he said, with his comments directed at Wolin.