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After Senate passage, what's next for financial reform bill?

Negotiations with the House over the final financial reform bill are expected to be more transparent than they were with health-care reform. Exemptions or special deals sought by industry lobbyists are likely to stir intense debate.

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“Your constituents are not going to stand for this invasion of privacy,” said Sen. Michael Enzi (R) of Wyoming in floor debate on Thursday.

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In the end, it’s not “self-congratulatory press releases” but the marketplace that will determine the impact of this legislation, said Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.

The month-long debate included some 60 amendments from senators on both sides of the aisle. In the end, Senate majority leader Harry Reid ground out a victory by repeated procedural votes and wooing of a handful of Republican moderates. Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine were the first to break with the GOP caucus on this bill. Freshman Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts gave Democrats the critical 60th vote they needed to break a filibuster, after assurances from both Senator Reid and House leaders that his concerns over the impact of the new rules on Massachusetts insurance firms would be resolved in conference.

Two Democrats, Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, voted against the bill, citing concerns that the legislation does not go far enough to prevent another financial crisis.

True bipartisanship derailed, Republicans charge

As in the health-care reform legislation, Republicans who worked with Democrats in shaping this bill in its early stages say the White House and party leaders derailed what could have been a genuine bipartisan process.

“Bipartisan used to be dropping 10 extremists on both sides by the wayside and have 80 votes,” says Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, a key GOP negotiator on the bill who in the end voted against it. “With greater balance this November, we’ll have to take each other a little more seriously, and I think that will be good for the country.”

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