Senate Expected to Vote Today on Whether It Supports Brownback Position
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate is expected to vote today on a motion about whether it sides with Sen. Sam Brownback's provision that dealers should be exempt from oversight under the consumer financial protection agency. If the majority of senators vote yes, it will urge Senate leaders to ensure the Brownback position is contained in the final financial reform bill.
Dealer associations say it's not too late for dealers to take action. While the financial reform bill passed the Senate late Thursday, both Senate and House leaders will soon meet to work out the two chambers' differences and marry the language of the two bills.
David Regan, the National Automobile Dealers Association's vice president for legislative affairs, said late Friday, "Monday's vote is an opportunity to put the Senate on record supporting Main Street businesses and supporting customers. Sen. Brownback's motion will give the Senate an opportunity to clearly state its position as to whether dealers should be under additional unnecessary and burdensome rules beyond the current oversight by the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve.
"The fight to preserve affordable auto financing for consumers is far from over, but a positive Senate vote, together with the language from Rep. John Campbell already approved by the House, will position dealers well for the upcoming House-Senate conference," he added.
When the Senate voted to approve the financial reform bill on Thursday, Sen. Brownback's amendment did not come up for a vote.
According to reports, Brownback did not introduce his amendment due to a last-minute addition from another senator. Apparently, Brownback feared the amendment would get shot down due to this addition and instead called upon the Senate-House conference committee to bring it up and get it included. The House version of the financial reform bill included the dealer exemption.
The Senate passed the financial reform bill via a final vote of 59 to 39. Apparently, four Republicans voted in favor, while two Democrats voted against.
"Sen. Brownback has shown great leadership in his defense of small businesses and dealers thank him," said American International Automobile Dealers Association president Cody Lusk, who is also a dealer.
"We are optimistic that the Senate will approve the Brownback motion on Monday, but we need a strong bipartisan vote to send a clear message to conferees to include the House's dealer exemption in the final bill. Dealers aren't bankers, they are small business owners who are already heavily regulated and struggling to survive this economic downturn," he stressed.
Also in support of Sen. Brownback's position, NADA held a conference call to discuss the situation with dealers Friday at 11 a.m. EST.
"Because of your grassroots efforts, the Senate will vote on a motion to direct the Senate conferees to insist upon the Brownback language," the association said in a statement to dealers. "The House, through the Campbell amendment, already has voted to not subject dealers to the new consumer financial protection agency created by Wall Street reform, so passage of the Brownback motion would put both Congressional chambers on record supporting the dealer exclusion.
"A strong vote in the Senate on Monday in favor of Sen. Brownback's motion will significantly strengthen the dealer position in conference," the group added.
According to AIADA, about 250 of its dealers descended on Capitol Hill last week in support of the dealer exemption. Meanwhile, NADA says more than 100 of its dealer members showed up.
The groups went so far as to unite with Sen. Brownback in a press conference on Wednesday to reinforce their stance against dealers being included in the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
Both the AIADA and NADA offer different avenues for dealers to contact their senators:
—AIADA urges dealers to visit this site for more information.
—Meanwhile, NADA asks dealers to call senators through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to vote yes on the Brownback Motion to Instruct Conferees.