US Senate passes Wall Street reform bill

US Senate passes Wall Street reform bill

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks on Wall Street and Financial reform on Thursday. AP

By a vote of 59-39, the Senate awarded a victory to President Barack Obama, a champion of tighter rules for banks and capital markets after a 2007-2009 financial crisis that slammed the economy and led to massive taxpayer bailouts.

The Senate bill must now be merged with a measure approved in December by the US House of Representatives. Only then could a final package go to Obama to be signed into law, something that analysts said may happen next month.

Changes proposed in both bills -- driven by lawmakers eager to look tough on Wall Street before congressional elections in November -- threaten to constrain the banking industry and reduce its profits for years to come.

Flashpoints in the House-Senate negotiations will likely include a controversial proposal to curb bank swap-trading.

Obama said the final version of the bill would hold financial firms accountable but not stifle the free market.

"Over the last year, the financial industry has repeatedly tried to end this reform with hordes of lobbyists and millions of dollars in ads, and when they couldn't kill it they tried to water it down. ... Today, I think it's fair to say these efforts have failed," Obama said.

"We've still go some work to do," he added. "The House and the Senate will have to iron out the differences between the two bills. And there's no doubt that during that time the financial industry and their lobbyists will keep on fighting."

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