What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Banks/Credit Card Companies : S 3217. (Overhaul of financial regulations) Brown of Ohio amendment that would cap bank liabilities and deposits/On agreeing to the amendment
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S 3217. (Overhaul of financial regulations) Brown of Ohio amendment that would cap bank liabilities and deposits/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 136     May 06, 2010
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:

This vote was on an amendment by Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, that would have limited a bank’s size to the U.S. gross domestic product and prevented any one institution from holding more than 10 percent of U.S. deposits.  The amendment was offered to a bill that aims to close gaps in financial regulations, strengthen oversight of consumer lending and more closely oversee financial derivatives.  Derivatives are, in essence, very complex financial contracts that businesses use as a hedge against large changes in the price of some commodities such as gasoline, but that have also become popular with speculators looking to gamble on big profits.  Speculation in derivatives, relatively unhampered by regulation, is often blamed for partially contributing to the financial meltdown in 2008.

Brown said his amendment would “would scale back the six largest banks in the Nation, requiring them to spin off into smaller more manageable banks and maintain sufficient capital to cover their debts.”

“These six banks’ assets total $9 trillion. Our amendment ends bailouts by ensuring that no Wall Street firm is so big or so reckless that it fails, and then so does our economy. The bill we are considering today is strong, but it needs to be stronger. It focuses on monitoring risk—risk is the biggest problem—and takes action once there are signs of trouble. But size is also a huge problem,” Brown said.

Mark Warner, D-Va., said the underlying bill addresses the financial crisis in a responsible way and that Brown’s amendment is not the answer.

“We only have 4 of the largest 50 banks in the world that are American domiciled. I believe this arbitrary asset cap size is not the appropriate restriction. The real question should be the level of interconnectedness and the risk taking. We saw in the crisis of 2008 the character of the firms was not simply the largest firms but firms that did undue risk taking,” Warner said. 

By a vote of 33-61, the amendment was rejected.  Of Democrats present, 29 voted for the amendment (including most progressive members) and 27 voted against it.  All but three Republicans present voted against the amendment.  The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have capped bank liabilities and deposits.

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