The Wild West days on Wall Street are over.
Moments ago, the Senate joined the House of Representatives to pass the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which cracks down on corporate fraud and holds big banks accountable for reckless, risky behavior. If the financial crisis has taught us anything, it is that the look-the-other way, hands-off deregulatory policies of the recent past can jeopardize not only private investments, but our entire economy.
As a member of the conference committee that crafted this final bill, I added measures to ensure law enforcement and federal agencies have the tools -- including stiffer criminal penalties -- to investigate and prosecute financial crimes and to protect whistle-blowers who help uncover these crimes.
Once signed into law by President Obama, this bill will reform Wall Street by:
* Creating a consumer financial protection bureau to regulate the trading of derivatives, one of the root causes of the current meltdown, while allowing small businesses to continue using them to mitigate risk.
* Ending taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street institutions by establishing a new authority to wind down failing mega-firms outside of bankruptcy, so shareholders and creditors pick up the cost, not taxpayers.
* Protecting small businesses by establishing reasonable and fair swipe fees for debit and credit cards.
These changes bring long-overdue transparency and regulation to Wall Street, ending the days of back-room deals that put our entire economy at risk. This historic reform bill creates clear standards and real enforcement mechanisms -- including jail time for corporate wrongdoers -- to finally curb the fraud, manipulation and reckless speculation that undermined confidence in our markets and derailed our economy.
I'm proud of Congress's work to pass a bold reform bill that reigns in Wall Street abuses, ends government bailouts, and gives everyday Americans the consumer protections they deserve and expect. We have taken an important step towards restoring faith in America's financial system and rebuilding confidence in the long-term health of our economy.