As we've unfortunately seen, irresponsible, unchecked actions on Wall Street can have disastrous effects on Washington's main streets. The financial collapse underscored the need to rein in market abuse and speculation and add much-needed transparency to derivatives trading, which financial experts say largely contributed to the market collapse. Maria became a leader in the effort to hold Wall Street's feet to the fire and she led a small group of Senate Democrats, hailed in a Newsweek column as progressive insurgents fighting against an Obama administration reluctant to change, in pressuring the White House and their colleagues to get tough on real regulation.
The push for Wall Street accountability led to the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and Maria was a key figure in the debate. She voted against the Wall Street bailout because she believed it left small businesses on Main Street behind and so she worked tirelessly to ensure that reform stopped reckless behavior on Wall Street from crushing Main Street again.
She left her mark on the final product, closing the loophole that allowed risky derivatives trading to go on in dark, unregulated markets and requiring traders, for the first time, to prove there was real money behind their bets. Her work to include derivatives regulation in the bill led a columnist for The American Prospect to label her "the savviest and toughest battler for effective legislation" and "the best informed and most relentless crusader." Maria fought hard and even withheld her support for the bill until measures were included to toughen derivatives trading.
Maria also fought to add language to the bill that allows the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to crack down on Wall Street speculation in oil markets that leads to higher prices at the pump. In early 2011, she led a group of Senators in pushing the CFTC to move forward with their new authority, and following months of her continued persistence, the agency passed tougher new rules for policing oil markets in July 2011.
The Dodd-Frank bill was a major step forward in ensuring Washingtonians don't suffer from risky Wall Street behavior, but there's more to be done. That's why Maria continues to champion oversight on market speculation that drives up costs at the gas pump and in energy bills for Washington families.