Anti-Wall Street sentiment is so strong and Republicans have such a weak hand that Democrats in the Senate are suddenly finding themselves strengthening the financial reform bill with new amendments and beating back GOP attempts to weaken it.
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The latest evidence of this populist surge is that the Senate is now expected to adopt an amendment, authored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), that will require an audit of all of the Fed's emergency lending activities, starting in late 2007.*
Sanders' success in winning support for his amendment is emblematic of the greater debate over financial reform, which has, thanks to the Democrats' aggressive political posture, and the unpopularity of Wall Street, been much more favorable to progressives, even over the objection of powerful interests.
The Sanders measure is similar to a Fed audit proposal that was included in the House's financial reform legislation, which passed last December, and should simplify the process of ironing out the differences between the two bills in a conference committee.