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Financial Overhaul Bill Nears Passage With Republican Support

The U.S. Senate plans to take up the financial-regulation bill on July 15 as Democrats secured the 60 votes needed to enact the biggest rewrite of Wall Street rules since the Great Depression.

Majority Leader Harry Reid said he will file a procedural motion today that will permit the Senate to take final action by the end of this week and send the bill to President Barack Obama’s desk.

“We’re cleaning up Wall Street,” said Reid, a Nevada Democrat. “We’re going to make sure big bankers never again gamble away our future.”

The decision to seek a vote comes after Republicans Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine, said they would back the bill. Senator Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat, announced today he would vote yes after telling reporters yesterday he was undecided.

Their support gives Democrats the 60 votes needed to end debate in the chamber and move to a final vote, which will require a simple majority. Reid said the final vote could come as late as July 17.

“We listened to them carefully and I’m very appreciative of their support,” Senator Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat and the lead architect of the legislation, said today of the three New England Republicans.

Photographer: Jim Lo Scalzo/CBS via Getty Images

U.S. Senator Scott Brown. Close

U.S. Senator Scott Brown.

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Photographer: Jim Lo Scalzo/CBS via Getty Images

U.S. Senator Scott Brown.

The House of Representatives approved the legislation on June 30, five days after lawmakers worked through a 20-hour marathon session to merge versions approved separately by the House and Senate.

Obama Pleased

Obama said the legislation would help prevent another financial crisis. “I urge the Senate to act quickly so I can sign it into law next week,” he said.

The bill creates a consumer bureau at the Federal Reserve, a council of regulators to monitor firms for systemic risk to the economy and a mechanism for liquidating large financial firms whose collapse would threaten the economy.

Reid, whose party controls 59 of the Senate’s 100 seats, must avoid further defections by Democrats to retain the 60-vote supermajority needed to thwart Republican opposition.

Senator Russell Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat who opposed the Senate bill in May, said last month that he will again vote against it. Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat who opposed the measure in May, said she plans to back the final bill.

Not Perfect

Brown praised the legislation for setting up and defining some types of trading, improving transparency and ending the government practice of propping up large financial firms.

“While it’s certainly not a perfect bill, I think it goes a good measure to make sure we don’t have the same type of problems that we had before,” he told reporters.

Snowe said in a statement that the bill “takes necessary steps to implement meaningful regulatory reforms, create strong consumer protections, and restore confidence in the American financial system.”

Another Republican vote could come from Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, who voted for an earlier version of the bill. He said today in a Bloomberg Television interview that he remains undecided. His spokeswoman, Jill Kozeny, said in an e- mail last week that the lawmaker is “very concerned” about the mechanism Democrats created to pay for the bill after removing a bank fee. The revised plan calls for ending the $700 billion bailout program early and increasing banking-industry deposit- insurance fees.

Byrd’s Death

Republican support became more crucial for Democrats when West Virginia’s Robert Byrd died last month at age 92 after serving more than 50 years in the Senate. West Virginia’s legislature is scheduled to meet July 15 to clarify the process for replacing the Democratic lawmaker, Sara Payne, a spokeswoman for Governor Joe Manchin, said yesterday in an e-mail.

The overhaul bill drew scant support from Senate Republicans because it “stayed on the far left and therefore was not in the end appealing to most of my members,” Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said today at a news conference.

To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick O’Connor in Washington at poconnor14@bloomberg.net; Alison Vekshin in Washington at avekshin@bloomberg.net.

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