Senate passes bank overhaul bill; Dow plummets 376 points

By Patrice Hill, The Washington Times

The Senate on Thursday cleared remaining hurdles and easily passed a sweeping Wall Street reform bill, handing President Obama a victory even as a new financial crisis swept U.S. and global markets.

Mr. Obama took to the Rose Garden to hail the break in the Senate’s four-week logjam only minutes after the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by 376 points, or nearly 4 percent, to 10,068, in the stock market’s latest fraught reaction to a burgeoning European debt crisis.

The Senate bill, which draws heavily from Mr. Obama’s regulatory blueprint for Wall Street, aims to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis that threw the U.S. and world economies into the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

It was the government reaction to that earlier crisis — launching a massive, worldwide splurge of spending to resuscitate the global economy and rescue the failing banking system — that brought on the latest crisis, which started in Greece and a handful of other European countries with heavy debt loads.

Mr. Obama, in his celebratory remarks, did not mention the debacle rocking Wall Street and other markets from London to Hong Kong, prompting the worst one-day plunge in the Dow since last year’s market downturn.

Instead, the president once again lambasted Wall Street for trying to stop the reform bill while reveling in the congressional victory at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, where Senate Democratic leaders succeeded in enlisting the support of an additional Republican to put his reform bill over the top.

“The recession we’re emerging from was primarily caused by a lack of responsibility and accountability from Wall Street to Washington,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s why I made passage of Wall Street reform one of my top priorities, so that a crisis like this does not happen again.”

In pushing the bill through weeks of Senate debate, Democratic leaders fended off most major changes sought by Republicans and liberal Democrats. They were joined by three Republicans in a 60-40 vote Thursday afternoon to end debate on the bill and within hours passed it 59-39.

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