As the Senate finishes up with the final piece of health care reform, the White House and top Congressional Democrats are already looking ahead to the next big issue they'll tackle. It appears overhaul of financial regulations is next on the list. President Obama met with House Financial Services Chair Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Senate Banking Chair Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., Wednesday to work on a plan to move legislation forward.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would like the Senate to pass the bill, which Dodd's Committee passed on a party-line vote Monday, by Memorial Day. But even before that Dodd and Frank will start to work out the differences between the Senate approach and the legislation approved by the House in December.
According to Frank, following the spring recess the financial overhaul in the Senate will be the number one issue before Congress.
The Senate Agriculture Committee may have something to add to the package of financial reforms. Chairman Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., said the committee hopes to release a bipartisan draft discussion bill in April on regulation for over-the-counter derivatives. Lincoln says that measure could merge with legislation the Banking Committee approved this week or it could stand on its own. Either way she believes it's important to act this year and says Reid shares the same goal.
Speaking to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce conference, Lincoln did provide some details on derivatives reform, highlighting several points. For transparency, Lincoln said both standardized and customized swaps should be reported. She said there would be opportunities to list and trade swaps on public exchanges and a new type of exchange. She said clearing would be required for some of the standardized and highly liquid contracts and swaps dealers and major swaps participants will be registered and subject to capital, margin and regulatory requirements similar to those of a broker or dealer.