Wall Street Reform: SAFE Banking Act Fails

May 10, 2010 - Last Thursday's Senate floor debate on the financial reform bill saw another round of amendments offered and voted on. The most significant vote of the day was the SAFE Banking Act, sponsored by Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Ted Kaufman (D-DE), a provision that would limit the share of insured deposits, liabilities and leverage any one financial institution can hold. The amendment offered a set of specific size caps, in terms of U.S. gross domestic product and total deposits; Sen. Brown stated that "the six largest U.S. banks now have total assets estimated to be in excess of 63 percent of our GDP."

Despite some bipartisan support, the amendment failed, 33-61. Three Republicans joined 29 Democrats and Independent Bernard Sanders in support, while 21 Democrats and Independent Joe Lieberman joined the rest of the Republican caucus to vote the measure down. Senate Dems voting to not impose limits on bank size received on average 55% more money from the banking industry interests that would be affected by this provision, compared to Senate Dems who voted in support of bank size limits.

The six largest banks that would have been affected by this amendment are, in order of asset size: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. Campaign finance contributions from these banks and their employees to current Senators totaled $5,894,844 over the last six years (that's one election cycle per Senator). On average, contributions to Senate Democrats who voted to defeat the measure were $85,496, 70% more than the $50,241 average contributions to those who supported the Brown-Kaufman amendment.

Campaign Contributions (2004-2009) to Current Senators From Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley and Their Employees

Senator State Party Vote Total
Dodd, Christopher CT Democrat No $279,050
Menéndez, Robert NJ Democrat No $209,900
Baucus, Max MT Democrat No $187,350
Reid, Harry NV Democrat Yes $170,600
Schumer, Charles NY Democrat No $170,300
McConnell, Mitch KY Republican No $160,275
Lieberman, Joseph CT Independent No $155,200
Reed, John RI Democrat No $151,499
Specter, Arlen PA Democrat Yes $149,400
Carper, Thomas DE Democrat No $148,648
Gillibrand, Kirsten NY Democrat No $138,850
Cornyn, John TX Republican No $133,447
Bennett, Robert UT Republican Not Voting $123,950
Conrad, Kent ND Democrat No $120,350
Crapo, Michael ID Republican No $119,182
Bayh, Evan IN Democrat No $117,501
Johnson, Tim SD Democrat No $113,445
Burr, Richard NC Republican No $109,662
Kyl, Jon AZ Republican No $109,100
Chambliss, Saxby GA Republican No $100,498
Stabenow, Debbie Ann MI Democrat Yes $93,650
Warner, Mark VA Democrat No $93,600
Landrieu, Mary LA Democrat No $89,699
Nelson, Ben NE Democrat No $84,573
Durbin, Richard IL Democrat Yes $79,975
Thune, John SD Republican No $79,622
Shelby, Richard AL Republican Yes $78,850
Collins, Susan ME Republican No $73,617
Harkin, Thomas IA Democrat Yes $73,510
Cardin, Benjamin MD Democrat Yes $73,200
Hatch, Orrin UT Republican No $71,600
Lautenberg, Frank NJ Democrat No $70,250
Cantwell, Maria WA Democrat Yes $67,435
DeMint, Jim SC Republican Not Voting $65,175
Brown, Sherrod OH Democrat Yes $64,762
Lincoln, Blanche AR Democrat Yes $64,607
Vitter, David LA Republican Not Voting $59,721
Roberts, Pat KS Republican No $57,590
Rockefeller, John WV Democrat Yes $56,900
Enzi, Michael WY Republican No $56,700
Pryor, Mark AR Democrat Yes $56,692
Casey, Robert PA Democrat Yes $55,300
Whitehouse, Sheldon RI Democrat Yes $53,800
Hutchison, Kay TX Republican No $50,350
Nelson, Bill FL Democrat No $50,250
Corker, Bob TN Republican No $48,950
Klobuchar, Amy MN Democrat No $45,935
Ensign, John NV Republican Yes $43,000
McCaskill, Claire MO Democrat No $43,000
Murkowski, Lisa AK Republican No $40,750
Feinstein, Dianne CA Democrat No $40,000
Gregg, Judd NH Republican No $40,000
Udall, Mark CO Democrat No $36,750
Franken, Al MN Democrat Yes $34,150
Tester, Jon MT Democrat No $33,400
Snowe, Olympia ME Republican No $33,100
Bunning, Jim KY Republican Not Voting $33,062
Johanns, Mike NE Republican No $33,000
Isakson, John GA Republican No $32,850
Graham, Lindsey SC Republican No $32,650
Webb, Jim VA Democrat Yes $30,900
Murray, Patty WA Democrat Yes $30,500
Bingaman, Jeff NM Democrat Yes $30,141
Grassley, Charles IA Republican No $29,850
Hagan, Kay NC Democrat No $27,150
McCain, John AZ Republican No $26,900
Alexander, Lamar TN Republican No $26,533
Udall, Tom NM Democrat Yes $26,450
Barrasso, John WY Republican No $25,300
Lugar, Richard IN Republican Not Voting $23,850
Wyden, Ron OR Democrat Yes $23,450
Byrd, Robert WV Democrat Not Voting $21,750
Kerry, John MA Democrat No $21,000
Sessions, Jefferson AL Republican No $21,000
Boxer, Barbara CA Democrat Yes $20,475
Wicker, Roger MS Republican No $20,249
Levin, Carl MI Democrat Yes $19,900
Shaheen, Jeanne NH Democrat No $19,105
Mikulski, Barbara MD Democrat Yes $18,250
Coburn, Thomas OK Republican Yes $18,075
Voinovich, George OH Republican No $17,100
Bond, Christopher MO Republican No $17,000
Dorgan, Byron ND Democrat Yes $14,900
Leahy, Patrick VT Democrat Yes $13,750
Risch, James ID Republican No $13,500
Begich, Mark AK Democrat Yes $12,700
Feingold, Russell WI Democrat Yes $12,050
Inhofe, James OK Republican No $9,150
Merkley, Jeff OR Democrat Yes $9,050
Bennet, Michael CO Democrat No $8,800
Brownback, Samuel KS Republican No $6,734
Inouye, Daniel HI Democrat No $6,000
Brown, Scott MA Republican No $4,900
Cochran, Thad MS Republican No $4,650
Akaka, Daniel HI Democrat No $2,000
Sanders, Bernard VT Independent Yes $1,500
Burris, Roland* IL Democrat Yes $0
Kaufman, Edward* DE Democrat Yes $0
Kohl, Herbert WI Democrat No $0
LeMieux, George* FL Republican No $0
NOTE: Averages below exclude contributions to Senators appointed in 2009 who have not run for the Senate and are not planning to run: Burris, Kaufman, and LeMieux.
Average to Included Senators Voting No $67,824
Average to Included Senators Voting Yes $48,320
Average to Included Senate Democrats Voting No $85,496
Average to Included Senate Democrats Voting Yes $50,241


Campaign contributions data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics' (CRP) OpenSecrets Open Data. The averages calculated exclude Senators who were appointed to office in 2009 and are not campaigning to be elected when their appointed term expires: Sen. Burris (D-IL), Sen. Kaufman (D-DE), and Sen. LeMieux (R-FL). The date range of contributions is: January 1, 2004 - December 31, 2009. Contributions to the Presidential campaigns of Senators are not included.

For the table within the blog post, the sums include contributions from PACs and individuals employed by Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, or Morgan Stanley.

For the view linked from the blog post, the banking industry interest group categories selected for the industry-wide analysis are limited to the CRP industry categories of the six listed banks: Banks and Lending Institutions, Commercial Banks and Bank Holding Companies, and Investment Banking. This view includes all contributions made by contributors in these interest groups, not only the six listed banks.

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