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Congress: We've got a deal

"Ending more than two weeks of often-contentious negotiations, House and Senate lawmakers reached agreement early Friday on the most far-reaching rewrite of financial rules since the Great Depression," the Los Angeles Times writes. "The final details, including creation of an agency to protect consumers in the financial marketplace and new regulations to reduce risk-taking by large banks and limit their trading of complex derivatives, were hashed out in a marathon 20-hour session that began Thursday morning."

Roll Call: "The vote puts the massive bill one step closer to the president's desk and marks a major victory for Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd… Votes are expected next week in the House and Senate. For Dodd, the legislation would be the capstone of his 30-year Senate career. The veteran Democratic lawmaker is retiring at the end of the year after five terms."

The Wall Street Journal on the details: "In two important ways, the agreement is tougher on the banking industry than officials in the Treasury Department anticipated when they first drafted their version of the bill 12 months ago. Lawmakers agreed to a provision known as the 'Volcker' rule, named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, which prohibits banks from making risky bets with their own funds. To win support from Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.), Democrats agreed to allow financial companies to make limited investments in areas such as hedge funds and private-equity funds. The move could require some big banks to spin off divisions, known as proprietary-trading desks, which make bets with the firms' money."


"The bill also includes a provision, authored by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D., Ark), which would limit the ability of federally insured banks to trade derivatives. This provision almost derailed the bill following vehement objections from New York Democrats. Ms. Lincoln worked out a deal in the early hours of Friday morning that would allow banks to trade interest-rate swaps, certain credit derivatives and others—in other words the kind of standard safeguards a bank would take to hedge its own risk."

Lots of other activity on the Hill yesterday… "Senate Democrats failed late Thursday to break a Republican filibuster of the tax-cut and unemployment-insurance extenders package, leaving its fate uncertain as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moved on to a jobs bill," Roll Call reports. "The motion to take up the bill, which required 60 votes for adoption, failed 57-41. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) joined all Republicans present in opposing the measure. Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) did not vote."

"Congress on Thursday overwhelmingly passed the conference report on the Iran sanctions bill," The Hill reports. "The House passed the bill on a vote of 408-8 Thursday evening. The Senate, with a vote of 99-0 earlier Thursday, also cleared the legislation. Now President Barack Obama just has to sign the bill for it to become law." What are the sanctions? "The bill takes aim at Iran's refined petroleum sector. Businesses that help supply Iran with refined petroleum or help develop the country's own refining capacity would be penalized by the legislation. In addition, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps comes under more scrutiny. Any financial institutions found to be doing business with the Guard or with blacklisted Iranian banks could be denied access to the U.S. financial system under the bill."

"Senate Democrats said Thursday that strong momentum is building within the caucus to tackle energy reform this year -- but with few specifics detailed after a closed-door caucus meeting, a path forward remains unclear."

"The House on Thursday narrowly approved a campaign finance bill that tightens disclosure requirements for corporate and union spending on political campaigns," The Hill reports. "The 219-206 vote on the Disclose Act came after weeks of aggressive lobbying by supporters, who cast it as fundamental to the health of American democracy, and critics, who assailed the bill as an unconstitutional infringement on the freedom of speech."

"The House on Thursday passed legislation to reverse a steep pay cut for Medicare doctors that took hold this month," The Hill writes. It passed 417-1 with Rep. George Miller of California the only no vote.

"The temporary 'doc-fix' bill will stave off the 21-percent cut until December, instead providing a 2.2 percent pay increase for doctors who treat Medicare patients," The Hill adds.