By Ben Fractenberg
MANHATTAN — It’s official. Shortly before noon on Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed in to law the the most sweeping reform of the country's financial system since the Great Depression.
The financial reform bill gives the government new powers to break up companies once deemed "too big to fail," creates a new consumer protection agency, and moves toward full regulation of the complex derivatives market.
"These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history," Obama said just before signing the bill. "And these protections will be enforced by a new consumer watchdog with just one job: looking out for people.”
The signing ceremony, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., followed a year-long battle to get the bill through Congress. The fate of the legislation was briefly left in doubt after longtime West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd died in late June.
But Senate Democrats were able to overcome a Republican filibuster after making compromises to win the support of Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.