The House Financial Services Committee approved legislation Wednesday to reform credit rating agencies.

The bill, which passed the committee by a vote of 49 to 14, would aim to improve accountability at the agencies, which have been criticized for their high ratings of mortgage-backed securities leading up to the financial crisis.

The legislation would clarify the right of individuals to sue ratings organizations, seek to improve their internal controls and require disclosures about potential conflicts of interest.

The panel also continued debate on another bill to increase investor protections. That legislation would enhance the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement powers, and establish that all financial intermediaries who provide financial advice have a fiduciary duty toward their customers. A committee vote on the bill is expected today.

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