Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 29, 2010; A16
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), one of only four Republicans to vote for an earlier version of new financial regulations, is wavering on whether he will support the final bill this week.
The freshman senator has bristled at a proposed assessment, included by the House-Senate committee, to pay for the cost of the legislation using a fee on financial firms with more than $50 billion in assets, and hedge funds exceeding $10 billion. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of the legislation at nearly $20 billion over the next decade.
Brown said in a statement Monday that he was "surprised and extremely disappointed" by the proposed assessment. "While I'm still reviewing the bill's details, these provisions were not in the Senate version of the bill which I previously supported," he said. "My fear is that these costs would be passed onto consumers in the form of higher bank, ATM and credit card fees and put a strain on lending at the worst possible time for our economy. I've said repeatedly that I cannot support any bill that raises taxes."
Democratic leaders altered the legislation in recent weeks in an effort to secure Brown's support. They included an exemption to allow insurance and mutual fund companies, which are major employers in Massachusetts, to continue trading on their own accounts. Brown also won a concession to allow banks to invest up to 3 percent of their capital in hedge funds and private equity funds.