Senate Takes Shots At Big Banks In Budget Amendments

The nation’s biggest and most powerful financial institutions took a few hits during the marathon Senate budget debate.

By Peter Schroeder

Among the hundreds of amendments introduced during the debate that stretched into the early hours of Saturday morning, the Senate easily cleared a handful of amendments that, while nonbinding, fire warning shots across the bow of Wall Street’s major players.

In a chamber that is divided on almost everything, members agreed unanimously to an amendment offered by Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) that would end federal subsidies for banks that are “too big to fail.”

“This is a really impressive sign that we mean business on ending too-big-to-fail,” said Vitter. “Mega-banks are still receiving special handouts that create an uneven playing field — making it harder for our community banks and credit unions to compete with the mega-banks.”

The amendment would end any subsidies or funding advantages massive banks enjoy due to their size, targeting banks worth more than $500 billion. It passed 99-0.

“Being against ‘too big to fail’ is like being in favor of motherhood and apple pie,” said Brian Gardner, senior vice president for Washington research at Keefe, Bruyette and Woods. “In some ways, it’s a ‘check the box.’ You have to be on the right side of it.”

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