Sen. Jack Reed lashed out Tuesday after media reports said that industry lobbyists are seeking the assistance of Republicans to kill proposed credit-rating agency reforms that are part of the regulatory reform bill.
The Rhode Island Democrat, who was an author of the reforms included in the bill by Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, said they were essential to preventing the abuses that led to the financial crisis.
"Credit-rating reform addresses one of the systemic failures that caused the financial crisis," he said in a press release. "My provision will improve the accountability and transparency of credit ratings which are critical to the health and productivity of our financial markets."
Reed said his statement was in reaction to a story by Bloomberg News on Tuesday that said Standard & Poor's, a unit of McGraw-Hill Cos., was seeking help from Sens. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Bob Corker of Tennessee in scuttling that part of the bill. The story pointed to a March 22 e-mail from McGraw-Hill lobbyist Cynthia Braddon, which said that "Democrats 'cannot bring this bill to the Senate floor' unless it's supported by Republicans."
"We must crack down on conflicts of interest and help ensure that ratings are based on facts, not fees," Reed said. "The same companies that helped cause the financial crisis are now trying to block reform."
Braddon did not respond to requests for comment. Spokeswomen for Gregg and Corker did not respond to requests for comment by press time.