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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Pomeroy and Peterson weigh in on passage of Wall Street reform

North Dakota and Minnesota congressmen said the U.S. House's passage of a massive Wall Street reform bill Wednesday was "a big step forward" for the country.

North Dakota and Minnesota congressmen said the U.S. House's passage of a massive Wall Street reform bill Wednesday was "a big step forward" for the country.

In statements released after the House voted 237-192 to pass the bill, Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., applauded the legislation that would overhaul financial regulations. They both voted in favor of the bill.

Pomeroy said the vote was "a big step forward" for the country.

"For years, Wall Street has engaged in risky behavior that threatened the health of our economy and the well-being of millions of American families," he wrote. "The result was a financial crisis that drove our economy into the ditch."

The legislation would "crack down on that irresponsible behavior" and use "common-sense rules" to protect consumers.


"This bill does the right thing for North Dakotans and I look forward to watching the president sign it into law," Pomeroy wrote.

Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said he was "pleased" the legislation contained provisions that the committee endorsed to "mitigate outrageous price spikes in commodity markets."

"This comprehensive legislation represents a middle ground between the House and Senate products," he wrote. "And, while no one got everything they wanted in this bill, I think we got a bill that will help prevent another crisis in the financial markets like the one we experienced in 2008."

The House passed its version of Wall Street reform in December; the Senate passed its bill last month. The bill passed Wednesday combined the separate versions and still needs Senate approval before President Barack Obama could sign it into law.

Pawlenty asks for extended disaster request

Gov. Tim Pawlenty asked the federal government to extend a disaster declaration to include more stormy weather since the June 17 tornado outbreak that killed three in Minnesota.

Late last week, he requested a major disaster declaration for the tornadoes and severe thunderstorms on June 17. In a Wednesday letter to President Barack Obama, Pawlenty asked the disaster declaration to cover June 17 through June 26 because of several other severe storms that caused damage around the state.

Pawlenty said the National Weather Service has issued 109 severe weather warnings during those 10 days for storms that brought large hail, tornadoes and flash flooding around the state. That includes 46 tornado warnings.


The weather service identified six tornadoes on June 25 as EF-2 strength, and more damage surveys are under way, Pawlenty said.

Pomeroy praises new student loan laws

A new law that goes into effect Thursday will help people "pursue their career goals" and afford a college education, Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., said.

In a written statement Wednesday, he said the changes in the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act will strengthen assistance for getting a higher education and allow more North Dakotans to go to college.

The legislation was included in the health care reform bill that passed in March.

The student aid changes include lower interest rates on some federal loans, more grant availability and fixes to income-based repayment programs.

"The stories I hear all too frequently about people forced to leave school to make ends meet are just tragic," Pomeroy wrote.

He said a college degree is "increasingly important in today's job market" and lawmakers "need to do everything we can" to assist people in getting an education.


"This new law tells students, 'If you get your degree and make your payments responsibly, we will help make sure that you have a clear path to get rid of your death,'" Pomeroy said.

Johnson reports on local politics. Reach him at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to rjohnson@gfherald.com .

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