Good news: The Senate just secured 60 votes to proceed on Wall Street reform, clearing the way for the legislation’s final passage today or Saturday.
The legislation garnered the votes of every Democrat except Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who argued that the bill was too weak to support. Every Republican opposed the bill, except Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Scott Brown, R-Mass. Brown’s influence over the bill was particularly pernicious, which I’ll elaborate more on later.
As I’ve argued previously, the bill is far from perfect, but is still a step in the right direction. After thirty years of deregulation, Congress is finally moving back to actually regulating Big Finance. The bill won’t end too-big-to-fail, but it will create a powerful new regulator to protect consumers from banker abuses, and it will establish some useful financial infrastructure that can be expanded by future legislation.
Wall Street reform is going to pass. That fact is worthy of celebration, but citizens and activists must maintain the pressure on Congress and the administration to pass more significant reforms in the coming months and years. A brief list of what’s left to do: breaking up the megabanks, imposing a tax on financial speculation and barring banks from backing risky derivatives operations with taxpayer funds.