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Senate Sends Wall Street Overhaul to Obama

Updated: 6:01 p.m.

A far-reaching Wall Street regulation bill is headed to President Barack Obama’s desk after the Senate gave final approval to the measure on a 60-39 vote Thursday.

Thirty-eight Republicans voted against the measure along with Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.). Three Republicans joined Democrats in voting in favor of the measure: Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).

The financial reform bill is intended to address the circumstances that led to the near-collapse of financial markets in 2008.

Before the vote, Democrats overcame two procedural hurdles that required them to secure 60 votes. Brown, Snowe, Collins and vote-switcher Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) were the keys to getting the necessary votes to both beat back the GOP-led filibuster attempt and a budget point of order against the bill.

Cantwell opposed the Senate version of the bill but declared nearly two weeks ago that the House-Senate conference report largely addressed her concerns about regulation of complicated financial instruments known as derivatives.

Democrats have argued the bill will not only prevent another financial crisis from occurring but also will obviate the need for another Wall Street bailout like the $700 billion fund Congress passed in the fall of 2008.

But Republicans contend the package would create a new overbearing regulation structure — particularly when it comes to consumer protection — and could end up further restricting the credit markets.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the political blog Talking Points Memo before the vote for passage that the measure ought to be repealed.

In praising Congress for passing the bill, Obama addressed Boehner’s stance. “Now, already the Republican leader in the House has called for repeal of this reform,” he said. “I would suggest that America can’t afford to go backwards, and I think that’s how most Americans feel, as well. We can’t afford another financial crisis, just as we’re digging out from the last one.”

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