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Wall Street reform bill: Democrats have the votes

By Jennifer Liberto, senior writer

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) -- Two key Republican senators announced their support for the Wall Street reform bill Monday, placing Senate Democrats days away from winning the final vote to passing the most sweeping set of changes to the financial system in decades.

Top Senate Democrats say they have the 60 votes needed to pass the Wall Street reform bill this week. The Senate could hold a procedural test vote as early as Tuesday, which would set the stage for a final vote later this week.

"It is a better bill than it was when this whole process started," Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., said in a statement. "While it isn't perfect, I expect to support the bill when it comes up for a vote."

Late in the day, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, issued a statement on her website saying she'll vote for the measure.

"To ensure we avoid another financial catastrophe such as the one that plunged our nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression, it is imperative that we implement an aggressive overhaul of the American financial regulatory system," Snowe said.

Another Maine Republican, Sen. Susan Collins, had indicated her support of the measure last week.

"With the support of Senators Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Scott Brown, Wall Street reform is a step away from heading to the president's desk to be signed into law," Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., the chairman of the Banking Committee, said in a statement.

The final bill aims to strengthen consumer protection, shine a light on complex financial products, create a new process for taking down giant, failing financial firms, and make them stronger to prevent such failure.

Two weeks ago, congressional negotiators had to reopen their negotiations to change the way the bill paid for itself in order to secure Brown's support.

Brown opposed a proposed tax on banks and hedge funds. Now the bill is self-funding by tapping money unused by the federal bailout program, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), as well as by charging banks more for the FDIC insurance they buy to protect deposits.

Senate leadership expects the Senate to take up the bill later this week.

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., has vowed to oppose the bill, saying it doesn't go far enough. Feingold's stance, combined with the death of Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia late last month, means Democrats can only count on 57 votes from their own party. To top of page

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