December 14, 2009

House Passes “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009”

On Friday, the House of Representatives – by a vote of 223-202 – passed the “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009” (it appears that this will be referred to as the “Wall Street Reform Bill”). As I’ve blogged, this bill consolidates and revises numerous reform bills that have been introduced in the House this Fall (eg. Title I contains what was the Financial Stability and Improvement Act of 2009). As of the start of last week, there were 238 amendments offered to this bill.

I’m not convinced I’ve seen a final copy of the bill actually passed since so many amendments were at play. I believe its changed since this version that was floated heading into last week – but that old version is what is linked to from this press release announcing the passage of the bill. [I’ll blog if a newer version becomes available]. We will be posting memos analyzing the bill in our “Regulatory Reform” Practice Area.

Now, the House bill will have to be reconciled with any financial reform legislation that emerges from the Senate. Senator Dodd introduced a reform bill a few months ago – but his bill has encountered opposition and remains in the Senate Banking Committee. Senate action is expected early next year and I imagine some of the House bill’s provisions will not square with the Senate’s version…

FEI’s “Financial Reporting Blog” summarizes the accounting implications of this bill.

House Passes Internal Controls Relief for Smaller Companies

Among the numerous provisions of the House’s reform bill is the Adler-Garrett amendment, which is a permanent exemption for small issuers (those with less than $75 million in public float) from the outside auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley (and have the GAO and SEC study enlarging the exemption for companies with a public float up to $700 million). On Friday, the House voted 271-153 against an amendment offered by Rep. Paul Kanjorski to remove the smaller company exemption.

Politics As Usual: A Poll on the House Bill

I chuckled when I read this quote from Rep. Nancy Pelosi about the House’s action: “The legislation says very clearly to Wall Street: the party is over.” It’s clear that the bill will impact all of us in some way – it is quite comprehensive – but it’s a falsehood to say the party is over. Hasn’t she seen “Animal House”? Recall this quote from John Belushi’s Bluto: “Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Heck no!”

The Republicans issued this press release says this bill will destroy jobs and the economy. And see this press release from Rep. Barney Frank from before the House vote. The politics is at full throttle. But don’t take my word for it, participate in this anonymous poll and weigh in:

Online Surveys & Market Research

– Broc Romanek