This was a vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and prohibiting amendments to financial regulatory reform legislation.
The House of Representatives and Senate had passed different versions of financial regulatory reform legislation, which was intended to prevent the kind of financial crisis that had recently occurred in the fall of 2008. When the two Houses of Congress pass different versions of the same bill, a final version is typically negotiated in a conference between a limited number of members of both bodies, and a conference report is developed. That report then must be passed by both Houses before it is sent to the president to be signed into law. Under House rules, conference reports cannot be amended.
The conference report created a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency to protect consumers from risky and abusive financial practices, provided for an audit of the Federal Reserve, strictly limited the extent to which banks could invest in hedge funds, and gave the federal government the authority to regulate sensitive financial instruments known as “derivatives.” The audit of the Federal Reserve, however, only applies to loans made by the Fed during the financial crisis. (A number of members, including Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), had proposed a much broader and controversial proposal to audit the Federal Reserve.)
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) praised the legislation: “…Today we will take an historic vote on the most significant reform to our financial industry since the New Deal. These comprehensive reforms will reduce threats to our financial system, increase oversight and prevent future bailouts. The bill strikes a responsible balance, ending the `wild west' era on Wall Street, while laying a new regulatory foundation for long-term growth which is stable and secure.”
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) criticized the measure: “Today, we are considering a 2,300-page Federal takeover of the financial services industry. This happened in health care. It's now happening in financial services. The bill before us today is just one more piece of the Democrat majority's agenda to federalize more of the private sector of this country.”
The House agreed to the resolution setting a time limit for debate and prohibiting amendments to the conference report by a vote of 234-189. 234 Democrats voted “yea.” 175 Republicans and 14 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House proceeded to formal floor debate on major financial regulatory reform legislation.