House Passes Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act
December 11th, 2009
The House of Representatives just passed important legislation designed to reign in the abuses that led to the recent financial meltdown. H.R.4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 tightens regulation of Wall Street and the financial sector. It creates a new agency with oversight of consumer lending, establishes new rules for transactions – like derivatives – that contributed to the meltdown, and seeks to reduce the threat that one or two huge companies on the verge of collapse could bring down the economy (too big to fail).
Lobbying on the measure has been heated. The Oblate JPIC Office joined 53 other faith-based and public interest groups as well as organizations affected by commodity speculation, in a letter to Members of the House of Representatives calling for meaningful reform of the commodities futures/swaps markets. The letter was generated by the Commodity Markets Oversight Coalition. The coalition has advocated since early 2007 for legislation to bring about greater transparency, oversight and accountability in these markets and to empower federal regulators with the authority and resources to protect against fraud, manipulation and excessive speculation.
The Senate version of the legislation, which is still being debated, is quite different. It is likely that the House legislation will change significantly in the House/Senate conference committee. Once House and Senate legislation is passed, a conference committee is formed to craft a single piece of legislation to send to the President for his signature. Consumer advocates and faith-based groups concerned about the impact of poorly regulated financial markets on ordinary people, will continue to press legislators for robust protections.