Shelby: GOP really standing with small businesses in financial bill opposition

Republicans are the party to stand with Main Street when it comes to financial reform, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said Saturday.

Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, turned Democrats' attacks on the GOP on their head, arguing that Republicans' opposition to the Wall Street reform bill favored by Democrats was in the best interest of small businesses.

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"This week, Republicans stood with America’s small-business owners and offered a rational alternative that strengthens consumer protections without burdening Main Street with unnecessary regulations," Shelby said of an amendment he offered to rein in elements of the bill's sections on consumer protection.

"The Democrats chose, once again, to ignore the American people and unanimously rejected our amendment," Shelby said.

While Republicans voted in favor of some Democratic and bipartisan amendments to the financial reform bill during the first week of debate on the legislation, the Shelby amendment was a touchstone for many Republicans' concerns about the bill. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), another member of the Banking committee, said Friday that he would offer an amendment next week on behalf of Republicans seeking "surgical" changes to the bill.

Shelby touted some of the changes made to the bill over the past week, arguing that many of the amendments came at the GOP's insistence.


But Shelby also voiced other central Republican criticisms of the bill, namely that the bill does little to address government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of which were taken into government conservatorship at the height of the financial crisis, and continue to require billions in taxpayer support.

"Their legislation to reform the financial system touches nearly every corner of the economy, but these major contributors to the crisis are left unscathed," Shelby said. "In the days to come, Republicans will be demanding that financial reform include Fannie and Freddie."

Shelby will also make the rounds on the Sunday talk show circuit to argue the GOP case against the bill in its current form, appearing both on CNN and CBS, where he'll square off against Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the chairman of the Banking committee, and the author of the bill before the Senate.

The Senate will begin voting again Tuesday on amendments to the bill. Despite a three-day workweek next week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has repeatedly said the bill must be finished by the end of next week.