This vote was on an amendment by Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that would allow for future legislation to establish a national usury law. The amendment was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress’ budget priorities in fiscal 2010. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.
Sanders said this amendment would provide the budgetary room for enacting a separate bill he has introduced that would cap credit card interest rates at 15 percent. It also would require the Federal Reserve to reveal the names of each bank that received assistance under the stimulus law and how much money they received.
“The American people are outraged by the greed, the recklessness, and the illegal behavior they have seen from the masters of the universe on Wall Street, who, through their outrageous behavior, these financial tycoons, many of whom have earned hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars in their career, have plunged our country and much of the world into a deep recession which has cost our people millions of jobs, which has cost people their homes, which has cost people their savings, and which has led millions of Americans to wonder what kind of future their kids are going to have,” Sanders said. “The taxpayers of this country, through the Fed, have lent $2.2 trillion to a number of financial institutions. We do not know who these institutions are or what they received. This is totally absurd. We need to name the names. That is what this amendment is about.”
Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said “disclosing the names of the companies may create financial instability by unnecessarily raising concerns about institutions that accessed these facilities, something we should try to avoid.” Shelby, along with Chris Dodd, D-Conn., offered an alternative amendment. Their amendment would compel the Federal Reserve to reveal amounts of money given but stops short of revealing names.
By a vote of 31-67, Sanders’ amendment was rejected. Of Democrats present, 30 voted for the amendment (including the most progressive members) and 25 voted against the amendment. Every Republican present voted against the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have provided for future legislation capping credit card interest rates, and compelled the Federal Reserve to detail which banks received how much bailout money.