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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate approved the financial reform bill late Thursday without the Brownback amendment coming up for a vote. However, the dealer protection provision is expected to be addressed in a House and Senate conference committee that is designed to work out the differences between the two chambers.

This means it's not too late for dealers to reach out to senators to seek support of the Brownback proposal to exempt dealers from consumer protection agency oversight.

"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.

Both the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers and the National Automobile Dealers Association have also been vocal proponents of Sen. Sam Brownback's amendment.

The NADA held a conference call to discuss this situation with dealers today at 11 a.m.

"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. It is imperative to keep the pressure on senators over the weekend to support Sen. Brownback's motion on Monday evening," the group added.

According to AIADA, about 250 of its dealers descended on Capitol Hill this 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 the Kansas Republican 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.

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 at about 8:30 p.m. last evening. Apparently, four Republicans voted in favor, while two Democrats voted against.

To contact your senator now AIADA urges dealers to click here.

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.