July 21, 2010

CREW applauds the tireless work of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to bring transparency and accountability to our government. Thanks to his hard work, the newly enacted financial reform bill includes provisions subjecting the Consumer Protection Agency within the Federal Reserve and the Financial Services Oversight Council to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Sen. Leahy has also pushed back against the Federal Reserve’s efforts to maintain a blanket of secrecy over its lending practices. Sen. Leahy understands that the FOIA is more than a stand-alone bill; it sets a standard of transparency that all legislation should live up to.

Reaction Of Senator Patrick Leahy To The President’s Signing Into Law Of The Wall Street Reform Bill

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

[President Obama Wednesday signed into law an historic financial reform bill aimed at correcting Wall Street excesses that nearly set off a world economic collapse. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was a Senate conferee in the House-Senate negotiations on the final bill and the author of several key provisions to expand transparency and to counter financial fraud. Following is Leahy’s statement after the bill was signed.]

This new law is about changing the culture of rampant Wall Street speculation and doing what needs to be done to get our economy back on track. These reforms will reign in Wall Street abuses, end government bailouts and give everyday Americans the consumer protection they deserve and expect.

This is a reset of business as usual on Wall Street. Instead of secret deals and murky rules, we now will have clear standards, matched with real enforcement, including jail time for executives. The disinfectant of transparency will help investors make sound decisions, and it will discourage fraud and deception. These reforms will help build confidence in our economy and continue the progress toward full economic recovery.

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Following is a summary of Leahy-related provisions in the financial reform package.

Senator Patrick Leahy was a Senate conferee in the negotiations on the final bill. Leahy also is the author of many elements of the reform bill, including several on FOIA and transparency, and a package of new tools for better enforcement of anti-fraud laws, including tougher criminal penalties.

Leahy-led provisions in the final bill include:

Leahy’s reforms to improve enforcement of anti-fraud laws, including tougher criminal penalties and jail time for Wall Street fraud.

Leahy Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) improvements in the final bill –

Leahy amendment requiring a FOIA impact study of a FOIA exemption for whistleblower information provided to the SEC and to the CFTC, to improve public access to information and better protect American whistleblowers.

Leahy amendment requiring a FOIA impact study of a FOIA exemption for information about participants in the Federal Reserve’s emergency credit facilities, discount windows lending programs and open market programs, to improve public access to information and better protect American whistleblowers.

Leahy amendment narrowing the FOIA exemption for whistleblower information provided to the SEC and to the CFTC.

Leahy amendment clarifying that the new Consumer Protection Agency established within the Federal Reserve will be subject to FOIA.

The final bill also maintains Leahy-supported language to ensure that the Financial Services Oversight Council will be subject to FOIA.

Leahy amendment providing that the FOIA exemption for certain Federal Reserve information will not impact pending FOIA cases.

A Leahy amendment preserves meaningful antitrust oversight of financial industry.

The Leahy small-state minimum in the formula for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program – this Leahy provision will ensure Vermont at least $5 m. in this program, which helps stabilize communities that have suffered from foreclosures and abandonments.

The Leahy Extractive Industries Transparency Disclosure Amendment will enable investors, the American public, and citizens of resource-rich countries to know what their governments and officials are receiving from foreign companies in exchange for mining rights. The Leahy Amendment is drawn from a bill introduced by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

Key provisions supported by Leahy in conference, sponsored by others –

Leahy is a key Senate backer of the Durbin-Welch curbs on predatory credit card rules.

Leahy is a cosponsor of Senator Sanders’s amendment that requires an audit of the Federal Reserve’s bailout allocations.

Leahy also was a key supporter of the bill’s derivatives reforms, and for including a narrow end-user exemption to allow electric cooperatives, heating oil dealers and other Main Street firms to continue to hedge their legitimate business risks.