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Wall Street reform bill clears Senate — its last hurdle

WASHINGTON — The Senate approved the long-debated Wall Street reform today, with Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken voting in favor. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law next week.

WASHINGTON — The last hurdle between the Wall Street reform bill and President Obama’s signing pen has been cleared. Now, it’s just a matter of time.

The Senate agreed to the conference report on a 60-39 vote today. Both Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken voted yes, as expected.

Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin bucked his party to vote no, while Republican Sens. Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins (Massachusetts, Maine & Maine, respectively) crossed over to vote yes. Earlier in the day, the Northeast moderates’ votes were key in attaining the necessary 60 to cut off debate and bring the bill up for a vote.

Franken praised the measure, saying in a statement that the legislation “will protect Minnesota consumers and hold Wall Street accountable.”

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He added: “We need to do everything in our power to make sure that the financial meltdown of 2008 never happens again. Today we took strong steps to address the roots of that collapse, including my own provision designed to end the conflicts of interest in the credit rating system.”

“The reckless gambling on Wall Street cost millions of Americans their jobs, homes, and nest eggs,” Klobuchar said. “Trillions of dollars in wealth were gambled away because of a financial system that lacked the necessary safeguards to protect Main Street. This bill establishes safeguards to protect our economy and will help bring accountability back to our financial system.”

The House approved the conference report earlier this month on a largely party-line 237-192 vote.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, before the Senate voted, called for the bill’s repeal. John Engler, the former Michigan Republican governor who now heads the National Association of Manufacturers, blasted the bill as something that “hurts job creation.”

“Our nation’s unemployment still hovers close to 10 percent and manufacturers face ever-growing challenges as we emerge from this recession,” Engler said. “This legislation will only add more costs and have a negative impact on those who had nothing to do with the financial crisis.  We need to focus on policies that will grow our economy and enable job creation.”

President Obama is tentatively expected to sign the bill late next week, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters earlier today aboard Air Force One as Obama flew from Washington to Michigan, where he spoke at a car battery factory.

“I know the President looks forward to signing that bill as soon as possible,” Gibbs said. “It is a big step forward, and it is part of the President’s economic recovery plan.” 

“We talked about this at the very beginning of the administration. We cannot continue to operate using the same rules that got us into this mess.  And I think this will be a vote that Democrats will talk about through November as a way of highlighting the choice that people will get to make in 2010.”