Wall Street Reform: SAFE Banking Act Fails

Emily Calhoun | May 10, 2010

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

Dodd, ChristopherCTDemocratNo$279,050
Menéndez, RobertNJDemocratNo$209,900
Baucus, MaxMTDemocratNo$187,350
Reid, HarryNVDemocratYes$170,600
Schumer, CharlesNYDemocratNo$170,300
McConnell, MitchKYRepublicanNo$160,275
Lieberman, JosephCTIndependentNo$155,200
Reed, JohnRIDemocratNo$151,499
Specter, ArlenPADemocratYes$149,400
Carper, ThomasDEDemocratNo$148,648
Gillibrand, KirstenNYDemocratNo$138,850
Cornyn, JohnTXRepublicanNo$133,447
Bennett, RobertUTRepublicanNot Voting$123,950
Conrad, KentNDDemocratNo$120,350
Crapo, MichaelIDRepublicanNo$119,182
Bayh, EvanINDemocratNo$117,501
Johnson, TimSDDemocratNo$113,445
Burr, RichardNCRepublicanNo$109,662
Kyl, JonAZRepublicanNo$109,100
Chambliss, SaxbyGARepublicanNo$100,498
Stabenow, Debbie AnnMIDemocratYes$93,650
Warner, MarkVADemocratNo$93,600
Landrieu, MaryLADemocratNo$89,699
Nelson, BenNEDemocratNo$84,573
Durbin, RichardILDemocratYes$79,975
Thune, JohnSDRepublicanNo$79,622
Shelby, RichardALRepublicanYes$78,850
Collins, SusanMERepublicanNo$73,617
Harkin, ThomasIADemocratYes$73,510
Cardin, BenjaminMDDemocratYes$73,200
Hatch, OrrinUTRepublicanNo$71,600
Lautenberg, FrankNJDemocratNo$70,250
Cantwell, MariaWADemocratYes$67,435
DeMint, JimSCRepublicanNot Voting$65,175
Brown, SherrodOHDemocratYes$64,762
Lincoln, BlancheARDemocratYes$64,607
Vitter, DavidLARepublicanNot Voting$59,721
Roberts, PatKSRepublicanNo$57,590
Rockefeller, JohnWVDemocratYes$56,900
Enzi, MichaelWYRepublicanNo$56,700
Pryor, MarkARDemocratYes$56,692
Casey, RobertPADemocratYes$55,300
Whitehouse, SheldonRIDemocratYes$53,800
Hutchison, KayTXRepublicanNo$50,350
Nelson, BillFLDemocratNo$50,250
Corker, BobTNRepublicanNo$48,950
Klobuchar, AmyMNDemocratNo$45,935
Ensign, JohnNVRepublicanYes$43,000
McCaskill, ClaireMODemocratNo$43,000
Murkowski, LisaAKRepublicanNo$40,750
Feinstein, DianneCADemocratNo$40,000
Gregg, JuddNHRepublicanNo$40,000
Udall, MarkCODemocratNo$36,750
Franken, AlMNDemocratYes$34,150
Tester, JonMTDemocratNo$33,400
Snowe, OlympiaMERepublicanNo$33,100
Bunning, JimKYRepublicanNot Voting$33,062
Johanns, MikeNERepublicanNo$33,000
Isakson, JohnGARepublicanNo$32,850
Graham, LindseySCRepublicanNo$32,650
Webb, JimVADemocratYes$30,900
Murray, PattyWADemocratYes$30,500
Bingaman, JeffNMDemocratYes$30,141
Grassley, CharlesIARepublicanNo$29,850
Hagan, KayNCDemocratNo$27,150
McCain, JohnAZRepublicanNo$26,900
Alexander, LamarTNRepublicanNo$26,533
Udall, TomNMDemocratYes$26,450
Barrasso, JohnWYRepublicanNo$25,300
Lugar, RichardINRepublicanNot Voting$23,850
Wyden, RonORDemocratYes$23,450
Byrd, RobertWVDemocratNot Voting$21,750
Kerry, JohnMADemocratNo$21,000
Sessions, JeffersonALRepublicanNo$21,000
Boxer, BarbaraCADemocratYes$20,475
Wicker, RogerMSRepublicanNo$20,249
Levin, CarlMIDemocratYes$19,900
Shaheen, JeanneNHDemocratNo$19,105
Mikulski, BarbaraMDDemocratYes$18,250
Coburn, ThomasOKRepublicanYes$18,075
Voinovich, GeorgeOHRepublicanNo$17,100
Bond, ChristopherMORepublicanNo$17,000
Dorgan, ByronNDDemocratYes$14,900
Leahy, PatrickVTDemocratYes$13,750
Risch, JamesIDRepublicanNo$13,500
Begich, MarkAKDemocratYes$12,700
Feingold, RussellWIDemocratYes$12,050
Inhofe, JamesOKRepublicanNo$9,150
Merkley, JeffORDemocratYes$9,050
Bennet, MichaelCODemocratNo$8,800
Brownback, SamuelKSRepublicanNo$6,734
Inouye, DanielHIDemocratNo$6,000
Brown, ScottMARepublicanNo$4,900
Cochran, ThadMSRepublicanNo$4,650
Akaka, DanielHIDemocratNo$2,000
Sanders, BernardVTIndependentYes$1,500
Burris, Roland*ILDemocratYes$0
Kaufman, Edward*DEDemocratYes$0
Kohl, HerbertWIDemocratNo$0
LeMieux, George*FLRepublicanNo$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.