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Business | National | Politics | Monday, July 12th, 2010, 7:22 pm

Snowe will back financial overhaul bill

William P. Davis

After almost two weeks of deliberation and outside speculation as to how she would vote, U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine,  said Monday evening she would support an overhaul of the nation’s financial regulation system, giving Democrats the 60 votes they need to enact the most sweeping financial reorganization since the Great Depression.

Here’s her statement:

“To ensure we avoid another financial catastrophe such as the one that plunged our nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression, it is imperative that we implement an aggressive overhaul of the American financial regulatory system. And this effort must include real and substantial consequences for those whose reckless actions caused the crisis in the first place while guaranteeing the transparency and accountability of taxpayer dollars. After thoroughly reviewing the 2,315-page financial regulatory reform conference bill during the July 4 work period, I intend to support passage of the legislation when it’s brought before the Senate for consideration. I appreciate Chairman Dodd’s efforts during the conference process to successfully preserve the numerous amendments I had included in the initial bill to address the many unnecessary regulatory burdens on small businesses within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and preserve small businesses’ ability to access capital, particularly through seasonal loans. While not perfect, the legislation takes necessary steps to implement meaningful regulatory reforms, create strong consumer protections, and restore confidence in the American financial system.”

The bill would set up an independent consumer bureau within the Federal Reserve to protect borrowers from lending abuses, establish oversight of the derivatives market, and give the government power to dissolve failing financial companies.

There has been some concern that increased financial regulation could mean higher fees and less credit for bank customers, though it’s still too early to tell what effect the bill would have on consumers.

Snowe had added four amendments designed to protect small businesses and “temper onerous bank regulations,” according to the release.

Snowe joins fellow eleventh-hour holdout Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who also announced his support of the bill today, and Susan Collins, Maine’s other Republican senator, who recently announced her support.

D.S. MacLeod is editor of The Haul and a founding editor of the Observer.

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