In other news Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a compromise on a federal regulatory reform bill after a $19 billion fee on large banks and hedge funds was dropped from the legislation. Also, a former top executive at AIG defended his actions that led to the companies near collapse in 2008.
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The U.S. House moved today to approve a compromise bill reforming financial regulation. It would be the most sweeping rewrite since the Great Depression. But Democrats and Republicans were divided on whether the bill would prevent another financial meltdown or simply burden the public.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D-Md.:
The purpose of the Wall Street accountability bill is very clear. Never again should the American taxpayer be asked to foot the bill for bad bets made on Wall Street. Never again should millions of Americans have to lose their jobs because of reckless conduct on Wall Street. And never again will we allow the American economy to be held hostage to bad decisions on Wall Street and the financial sector.
REP. PETE SESSIONS, R-Texas:
It will involve more taxes, fees. And, in fact, it's $18 billion worth of new spending through these fees and taxes.
In addition to making bailouts permanent, which this bill does do, failing to address the root cause of the crisis, and rewarding failed regulators, this Democratic solution makes it even more difficult for consumers to access credit and for businesses to comply with over-burdensome regulations.
Democrats were still working to get the 60 votes needed to advance the bill in the Senate. In a bid to gather the final votes, negotiators deleted a $19 billion fee on large banks and hedge funds from the legislation.
A former top executive at American International Group today defended his actions leading to the company's near collapse in 2008. Joseph Cassano ran AIG's division that sold billions of dollars in credit default swaps. He told a bipartisan commission that he never diluted underwriting standards just to generate more business. The insurance giant ultimately received $180 billion in taxpayer funds.
Wall Street took another hit, after a major payroll firm issued a disappointing report on jobs. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 96 points to close at 9774. The Nasdaq fell nearly 26 points to close at 2109.
The U.S. Senate has confirmed General David Petraeus as the new commander for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The vote today was unanimous. Senators from both sides of the aisle had nothing but praise for the four-star general.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.:
David Petraeus has proved that he is a winner. And we need to give him every opportunity and remove every obstacle, so that he can help the United States and our allies win in Afghanistan.
SEN. CARL LEVIN, D-Mich., Armed Services Committee chairman: We can be certain that, when confirmed, he will bring highly experienced leadership and a profound understanding of the president's strategy in Afghanistan, which he helped shape as commander of the U.S. Central Command.
Petraeus was a key architect of American strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan. He replaces General Stanley McChrystal, who was fired for criticizing civilian leaders in the Obama administration.
Also today, NATO reported another American soldier killed in Afghanistan. That made 59 U.S. deaths this month.