Auto dealers close to escaping consumer rules

By Jennifer Liberto, senior writer

WASHINGTON ( -- Auto dealers are a step closer to escaping increased oversight from a new consumer financial protection regulator that will be created by the Wall Street reform push.

In a nonbinding, largely symbolic motion, the Senate on Monday directed its key negotiators to advocate exempting auto dealers from tougher oversight as they enter negotiations with the House to reconcile Wall Street reform bills.

The motion passed 60-30.

The Senate passed its reform bill last week, which would create a consumer financial protection bureau that will have the ability to craft new rules barring unfair practices with consumer loans, mortgages, credit cards and auto loans.

The Senate bill did not exempt auto dealers. But the House of Representatives bill, passed in December, did exempt them. Those two versions now need to be hashed out into a final, compromise bill.

With Monday's vote, the Senate made it more likely that auto dealers will be able to continue making auto loans without extra regulation -- a move strongly opposed by President Obama and the Department of Defense, which got involved in the issue after military personnel complained about predatory auto-lending practices.

A final decision will be made during the House and Senate negotiations, which are expected to begin in two weeks. To top of page

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