Consumer watchdogs seek strong final bill

June 5, 2010 at 9:36 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 5 (UPI) -- Consumer advocates say they're working to ensure financial reform legislation isn't weakened in a compromise between the U.S. House and Senate.

A conference committee of House and Senate leaders is to meet next week to resolve differences between their bills.

The Senate bill would create an independent agency within the Federal Reserve to protect borrowers from abuses by lenders. The House version would authorize a stand-alone agency with the same powers, though some groups such as car dealers and real estate brokers would be exempt from oversight.

Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor and advocate for a consumer watchdog, said lawmakers must ensure the new agency can enforce the rules it writes, including the ability to work easily with state attorneys general.

Consumer advocates also want to keep a provision in the Senate bill that would force federally insured banks to spin off lucrative swaps desks involving financial derivatives, The Washington Post reported Saturday. Lobbyists for the financial industry said such a regulation would hurt U.S. competitiveness in the banking world.

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