Forty Senate Republicans and one Democrat today sided with Wall Street and the Big Banks to deny the opportunity for senators to even debate real Wall Street reform. The U.S. Senate fell three votes short of the 60 votes (57-41) needed to begin debate on S. 3217, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010.
Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.) was the lone Democrat or Independent to vote against cloture. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) switched his vote to “no” in a maneuver that allows him to call for a new vote.
With a large majority of the Senate favoring the bill, supporters vowed to continue working to bring the bill to the floor and pass it.
The Senate vote comes just days before a massive march and rally in New York protesting reckless Wall Street practices and demanding the Big Banks pay to rebuild the economy and provide jobs. Union members, led by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, will join with community activists from National People’s Action (NPA) and other groups to march through the heart of New York’s financial district April 29.
This week, Working America, the AFL-CIO community affiliate, is holding satellite events at Big Banks in eight cities, telling banks that working people “will not be your ATM.” For more information, click here. Working America also will deliver 70,000 fliers about Wall Street reform to homes around the country and collect 10,000 handwritten letters to members of Congress.
More than 1,000 people in San Francisco will rally at the Wells Fargo shareholder meeting on Tuesday. Meanwhile, hundreds of retirees, family farmers and workers from across the heartland will march in the financial district in Kansas City, Mo., and demand Bank of America divest from payday lending. On Wednesday, hundreds of veterans, clergy members and working families will march to rally at the Bank of America’s annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, N.C. Concurrently, union leaders, community activists, small business owners, economists and working families who have lost their jobs, homes and credit will engage in a major demonstration in Chicago’s financial district demanding Wall Street banks pay to rebuild jobs and the economy they helped destroy.
The week’s actions, including the Thursday march and rally, are part of the AFL-CIO’s Good Jobs Now! Make Wall Street Pay mobilization.
Monday’s vote came as a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that about two-thirds of Americans support stricter regulations on the way banks and other financial institutions conduct their business.
In a letter to senators earlier today, AFL-CIO Legislative Director Bill Samuel said:
There is no justifiable reason to further delay consideration of comprehensive financial reform legislation that is critical to the economic survival of our country.
Millions of working families have suffered economic devastation due to the deregulation of financial markets. As a result of the reckless actions of Wall Street and the Big Banks, more than 8 million jobs have been lost, 7 million homes have gone through foreclosure and more than $11 trillion of household wealth has been destroyed. Retirement income has declined by 20 percent, and housing values have declined by 30 percent.
In his letter, Samuel added that when debate does begin:
Specifically, we will advocate that private equity be subject to the same regulations as hedge funds under the existing legislation, that leverage limits and size caps be applied to companies considered too big to fail, that proprietary trading and conflicts of interest language be included, that derivatives language remain strong and comprehensive and that an independent consumer financial bureau remain strong.