WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Tuesday secured the 60 votes he needs in the Senate to pass a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, all but ensuring that he soon will sign into law one of the top initiatives of his presidency.
With the votes in hand to overcome Republican delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday took steps to end debate on the bill Thursday, setting the stage for final passage perhaps later in the day. The House already has passed the bill.
Passage would represent a signature achievement for the president just four months after he signed massive health care legislation into law.
Support for the bill jelled Tuesday after Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced he would vote for the bill after raising concerns the previous day.
Obama noted that the bill is getting backing from Republican Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine. Snowe and Brown announced their support on Monday.
The 2,300-page bill aims to address regulatory weaknesses blamed for the 2008 financial crisis that fueled the worst recession since the 1930s. It gives regulators broad authority to rein in banks, limit risk-taking by financial firms and supervise previously unregulated trading. It also makes it easier to liquidate large, financially interconnected institutions, and it creates a new consumer protection bureau to guard against lending abuses.