Energized Democrats make reform of Wall Street their next big issue

Energized Democrats make reform of Wall Street their next big issue

Democrats plan to use momentum from the passage of healthcare reform to push for strong financial regulatory reform, saying they will pass a bill this year.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said at the White House Wednesday that with healthcare passed and signed, regulatory reform "is now the No. 1 issue that the American public is going to be focusing on."

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President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump takes credit for passing veterans bill that passed under Obama Orlando Sentinel declines to endorse Trump in 2020 Progressive activist: Democratic nominee will 'need to ride a little bit to the center' MORE met with Dodd, Frank and top administration financial officials Wednesday morning, and Dodd emerged to say he plans to get a bill on the floor of the Senate "within the next month."

Dodd's committee finished a "rather expedited markup" on the bill Monday, and Obama signaled he is ready to push ahead and oppose any efforts to weaken the legislation.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said financial reform is "one of the president's top priorities now."

Gibbs said Obama "expects that we will finish financial reform in the next couple of months," before the two-year anniversary of the economic collapse.

Dodd said the healthcare victory "strengthened our hand" and could well lead to bipartisan support on the financial regulation legislation.

The retiring senator said that he is "much more optimistic," and that he has had "positive conversations" with ranking member Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) in the last two days.

Dodd said Senate Republicans who "reluctantly went along with the 'just say no' " philosophy of the Senate Republican leadership will bolt and join Democrats in an effort to claim credit for getting things done.

"That door's open," Dodd said.

But the bill passed out of the Senate Banking Committee Monday night on a party-line vote, with no Republicans supporting it. The GOP has vowed to take the fight to the Senate floor instead of waging it in the committee room.

Frank and Dodd acknowledged there are still differences to be worked out in conference committee should the bill pass both chambers, but Frank said they have been working together to minimize those differences throughout the process.

"We're closer on this set of rules than we usually are, and that's not an accident," Frank said. "The basics are there."

Both men pledged an end to "too big to fail," and both men said they want to see a strong consumer protection agency included in the legislation.

One main difference between the Senate and House legislation is that the Senate bill would give regulators more power to restrict proprietary trading by big firms. The administration unveiled the limits known as the “Volcker Rule” after the House passed its legislation.

Frank said that with healthcare out of the way, both Congress and the public will focus on financial regulation.

"Healthcare was the No. 1 issue on the agenda," Frank said. "When we come back from recess, the No. 1 issue before the U.S. Congress will be this bill in the U.S. Senate."

-- This article was updated at 12:56 p.m.