H.R. 4173 is called the RESTORING AMERICAN FINANCIAL STABILITY ACT of 2010. Today we will listen to the voices of a few House Democrats who rose to support H.R. 4173.
Representative James R. Langevin, of Rhode Island said:
• Mr. LANGEVIN. Madam Chair, I rise in strong support of H. R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which will rebuild our economy and crack down on Wall Street to prevent another economic collapse caused by institutions that are ``too big to fail.''
• Over the past year, I, like many Rhode Islanders, have been angered by the greed exhibited by Wall Street and other companies that took advantage of their investors, preyed on our constituents, and rewarded executives with outrageous pay packages. With this bill, consumer protection will come first, and irresponsible companies will be held accountable for their actions.
• I would like to thank the committees for their work on this bill, and especially want to thank Chairman Frank for his leadership on this strong reform measure. I encourage all my colleagues to vote for this bill
Representative Charlie Melancon, of Louisiana said:
• Mr. MELANCON. Madam Chair, I rise today on behalf of thousands of families in Louisiana and across the nation who have been devastated by the fraud of Allen Stanford and his financial companies.
• Earlier this year, men and women who had played by the rules and worked hard to prepare for retirement and their children's futures learned that they had been cheated out of a lifetime of savings.
• While we continue in our efforts to make these families whole, we have a responsibility to ensure that this kind of fraud never again happens in the United States. The investor protections included in H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act are a monumental step toward this goal.
• One thing we have learned through this tragedy is that the greed of criminals like Stanford is matched only by the danger of deregulation. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which was designed to prevent this very situation, is deeply flawed. The bill we are now considering reforms the agency and strengthens its authority to effectively and forcefully protect investors and our securities markets.
• In addition, the bill creates incentives for whistleblowers to expose crooks like Stanford. Through a new whistleblower bounty program, we will reward individuals who provide tips that lead to the prosecution of fraud.
• Finally, under this bill, every financial intermediary who provides advice to an investor will have a fiduciary duty toward them. This standard will force broker-dealers and investment advisers to put first, their customers' interests--not their own pocketbooks.
• American citizens need the confidence that their government will act quickly and forcefully to protect their hard-earned savings. The investor protection measures in the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will provide families the security they need to prepare for the future.
Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island said:
• Mr. KENNEDY. Madam Chair, last fall, after 8 years of the previous administration looking the other way while Wall Street and the big banks exploited loopholes, we faced a near collapse of our financial system. Deregulation and lax oversight allowed Wall Street and big banks to gamble with the hard-earned money of the American people, compromising our savings and risking our future. Over the last year, Congress has had to make difficult, and frankly unpopular, decisions that were necessary to rescue our economy from the brink of disaster.
• The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will put in place the rules to make sure that this doesn't happen again, to protect the middle-class Americans who play by the rules from the consequences of Wall Street greed. This legislation ends many of the unfair lending practices that created predatory mortgages and waves of foreclosure. By stopping ``too big to fail'' firms before they threaten to wreak havoc on our economy, H.R. 4173 will finally put an end to the era of taxpayer-funded bailouts.
• While many aspects of this legislation are important, perhaps its most significant achievement is the establishment of an agency whose primary mission is to ensure the safety of financial products and look out for consumers. For too long, all of our fractured regulatory agencies have only looked out for the financial institutions they work for. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency will look out for unsafe financial products the same way the FDA monitors unsafe medicines or the Consumer Product Safety Commission examines our children's toys.
• While we have taken extraordinary actions to correct our economic crisis, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection act takes the necessary actions to hold accountable the people responsible for last year's crisis and to prevent another crisis in the future.
Representative Barbara Lee of California said:
• Ms. LEE of California. Madam Chair, I rise in support of H.R. 4173 and Chairman BARNEY FRANK's manager's amendment.
• I want to thank the Chairman for his hard work and dedication to Comprehensive financial reform and strong protections for consumers. It is vital that we have a standalone agency whose sole mission is to protect the rights of consumers.
• For too long our financial regulatory framework put the protection and stability of financial institutions first and too often ignored the impact on American consumers and retail investors.
• The Consumer Financial Protection Agency will help ensure that Wall Street will not be able to bring our economy to the brink of disaster ever again.
• I also want to thank Chairman FRANK and the members of the Financial Services Committee for working with Congresswoman MAXINE WATERS and the Congressional Black Caucus to include several important provisions in the bill.
• Specifically, thanks to their focused work, this bill will include $3 billion in funds to provide relief for unemployed homeowners. It will extend credit for the recently unemployed that will help save homes from foreclosure.
• This bill will stop the spread of foreclosure rescue scams and includes a vital $1 billion increase in Neighborhood Stabilization Funds to protect our hardest hit communities.
• Lower income communities and communities of color were targeted for these unaffordable and unethical products that are now driving millions of families into foreclosure.
• Access to financial services and insurance products for historically underserved communities is strengthened.
• The Office of Minority Inclusion, whose goal will be to make sure that all Americans have the equal protection of the work of the entire Federal financial regulatory framework is included in this bill.
• Fairness of access and opportunity, transparency and strong enforcement of securities regulations are vital to bringing our economy back from recession and ensuring that the uncontrolled risk taking on Wall Street will never again have such a devastating impact on the entire economy.
• Again, thank you Chairman FRANK, Congresswoman WATERS and the Financial Services Committee for such an important bill.
Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin said:
• Mr. KIND. Madam Chair, I rise today in support of H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009.
• Over the past year, we became aware of many financial practices which were abusive and reckless. We're putting an end to those practices and making ``too big to fail'' a thing of the past. Americans will no longer be responsible for the bad business calculations and irresponsible behavior that almost brought down our entire economic system. This bill effectively ends the notion of a government guarantee by allowing large, systemically risky institutions to fail at their own expense and in a way that doesn't jeopardize the whole U.S. financial system.
• The legislation holds Wall Street accountable through increased transparency and regulation of risky practices. A new systemic risk regulator will monitor financial activity across the whole sector to identify risks and irresponsible behavior and prevent them from becoming a problem for individual investors and the entire economy. The bill also establishes an orderly process for dismantling large, failing companies--at their own expense, and requires that stockholders and executives take a financial hit if risky deals fall through, ensuring an end to taxpayer funded bailouts.
• This bill effectively reforms our financial system without unduly restricting appropriate risk- taking. This is pro-business, anti-bailout legislation that aims to address the flaws in the current system in a targeted manner to minimize the burden on those who did not cause the crisis, like Community Banks and Credit Unions--most of whom will be exempt from additional oversight by the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, CFPA.
• We are addressing the fractured oversight that exists in our current system. In creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, we will establish a baseline for consumer financial protection and target the appropriate financial institutions. If we are willing to demand that products used by our children are reviewed for safety, we should demand appropriate oversight for the financial products we use to pay for their college. More broadly, the CFPA will ensure that all consumers have a watchdog to protect them against financial institutions engaging in abusive or deceptive practices.
• This bill focuses on reforming the system so that we maximize the good and minimize the harm, and I am proud to support it
Representative Peter DeFazio said:
The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under consideration of the bill (H.R. 4173) to provide for financial regulatory reform, to protect consumers and investors, to enhance Federal understanding of insurance issues, to regulate the over-the-counter derivatives market, and for other purposes:
• Mr. DeFAZIO. Madam Chair, I rise to express my concerns over the legislation before us. H.R. 4173, The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, takes steps to address many of the problems that created our current financial crisis. However, I am alarmed at a number of provisions that weaken the bill.
• The creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency is long overdue. Consumers need a strong advocate to protect them from the many questionable and confusing financial products offered. However, provisions put in by the banking industry to preempt meaningful state regulation threaten the strong consumer protections we are fighting for. Federal rules promulgated by this agency should set a floor of protection, not a ceiling.
• Title III, pertaining to regulation of derivatives, could have been improved by amendments offered that banned certain abusive derivatives from being traded and offered better transparency to the swap market. Unfortunately, those commonsense amendments were defeated. Other amendments that created more loopholes in the derivatives markets were unfortunately included.
• I was also disappointed that several amendments I cosponsored were denied an up or down vote. The Inslee/DeFazio/Hinchey ``Too Big to Fail'' amendment set a cap on the size of bank liabilities for financial institutions. Instead of relying on regulators to protect us from financial firms laden with risky investments, this amendment simply breaks up companies with excessive liabilities. The Hinchey/Inslee/Conyers/DeFazio/Tierney amendment would restore key protections from the Glass Steagall Act including the separation of commercial and investment banking.
• Furthermore, I opposed the Republican Motion to Recommit because it struck all financial reform from the bill, and would have ended the TARP program at the most inopportune time. I have long opposed the TARP program because it bailed out Wall Street for excessive risk taking at taxpayer expense. Now that Wall Street has been bailed out, the major problem facing Americans is rising unemployment. We should redirect the remaining TARP funds to real job creation on infrastructure because that will get people back to work quickly, rebuild critical infrastructure, and these jobs cannot be exported overseas. Wall Street got its bailout, now it's time to jumpstart American job creation.
• I was a strong opponent of financial deregulation legislation in the 1990s. This undermined our financial regulators and gave Wall Street the opportunity to make the risky speculative bets that it lost big on. Reversing this trend is essential; therefore I plan to vote in favor of this legislation to move the process forward. I am eager to see what emerges from the Senate as they continue their debate on financial reform. I am hopeful that this legislation moves us back to responsible regulatory oversight. It is important that we rein in the cowboy capitalism that has too long prevailed in our financial markets.
It is clear that Democrats are trying to solve the economic mess left behind by George W. Bush and former Republican dominated Congresses. It is clear that the Republican Party has no intention of representing the people when they can profitably cater to Wall Street Fat Cats. Lynn Jenkins and the Party of No voted against H.R. 4173 by a vote of 223 to 202 on roll call 968. No Republicans voted for this bill.
H.R. 4173 passed the Senate on record vote 169 with a margin of 59 to 39. The Senate passed the bill with an amendment. A conference committee will hash out the differences. Senators Brownback and Roberts also voted against jobs and for Big Banks.