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New Dems, Who Stalled Consideration of Bill Last Night, Raised $6.5 Million from Financial Sector This Year
 
Washington, D.C. – 34 members of the U.S. House of Representatives that offered amendments to weaken consumer protections in the House financial reform package received $3.8 million in campaign contributions from the financial sector in 2009, an average of $111,000 each, according to a Consumer Watchdog analysis of data obtained from the Center for Responsive Politics. Members of the New Democrat coalition, which delayed consideration of the bill last night until their demands on amendments were met, raised $6.5 million from firms in the financial sector.
 
The financial sector gave a total of $28 million to all members of the House of Representatives this year.  
 
“The financial industry made a fortune gambling with America’s money, then got their friends in Congress to bail them out at taxpayer expense. Now they’re lobbying to weaken the regulator that will rein in new schemes to steal money from consumers,” said Carmen Balber, Washington director for Consumer Watchdog. “These proposed amendments were bought and paid for the by financial industry and aimed at sabotaging reform.”
 
Download the Consumer Watchdog analyses here and here.
 
Weakening or eliminating the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency is a top priority for financial industry lobbyists and has been a flashpoint in the financial reform debate this year. U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive David Hirschmann said, “We’ll spend whatever it takes,” upon the launch of a multi-million dollar financial industry campaign against the consumer protection agency in September.
 
One amendment prompted a backroom fight over whether to prohibit states from enacting strong consumer protection laws against financial abuses when federal rules do not provide consumers with enough protection. According to news reports Wednesday night, the amendment forced unspecified changes to the financial reform bill, presumably allowing some additional preemption of state authority. The New Democrat coalition held up consideration of the financial reform bill until changes were made.
 
Sponsors of the original amendment to override state consumer protections received $1.4 million in campaign contributions from companies in the financial sector in 2009, and $11.4 million over the course of their careers. Primary sponsor, Illinois Representative Melissa Bean, has received $393,000 from the financial sector, 50% of all the money she raised in 2009. The other sponsors were Reps. Adler (D-NJ), Castle (R-DE), Crowley (D-NY), Herseth Sandlin (D-SD), Lance (R-NJ) and Royce (R-CA). Adler, Bean and Crowley are members of the new Democrat coalition.
 
“States play a critical role in ensuring consumers are truly protected against abuses and outrageous treatment by lenders and financial institutions. Preempting state laws would roll back consumer financial protection before reform even gets off the ground,” said Balber.

The list of proposed amendments was reported by the Rules Committee as of Wednesday night. A list of which amendments will be considered on the floor has not yet been released. A list of proposed amendments that would have weakened the Consumer Financial Protection Agency can be found here.
 
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Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, CA. Find us online at: <a href="http://www.consumerwatchdog.org">www.ConsumerWatchdog.org</a&gt;.