Brown will back Dems’ financial reform bill

The Senate moved a step closer to passing financial regulatory reform on Monday.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., announced he will vote for the bill, now that Democratic leaders have stripped from it $19 billion in taxes on big banks that had been added when the House and Senate wrote the compromise legislation.

Brown’s approval brings the number of “yes” votes to 59, with Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, expected to add her name to yes column. The legislation will then have the 60 votes needed to block a Republican filibuster. Most GOP lawmakers are opposed to the bill because they believe it will place too much of a burden on smaller banks and businesses while at the same time not doing enough to prevent taxpayer bailouts of big banks.

Brown said removal of the bank tax, which he feared would be passed along to consumers, is what earned his support.

“It is a better bill than it was when this whole process started,” Brown said. “While it isn’t perfect, I expect to support the bill when it comes up for a vote. It includes safeguards to help prevent another financial meltdown, ensures that consumers are protected, and it is paid for without new taxes. That doesn’t mean our work is done. Further reforms are still needed to address the government’s role in the financial crisis, including significant changes to the way Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac operate.”

The Senate could vote on the bill by the end of the week, aides said, clearing it for President Obama’s signature.

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