Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner urged Congress to act quickly on the Obama administration's regulatory reform proposals, saying past efforts had started too late after the will to act had faded.

Geithner, in prepared testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, said the administration considered a full range of options and decided that now is the time to pursue the essential reforms, those that address the core causes of the current crisis; and that will help to prevent or contain future crises.

The plan proposes to consolidate some regulatory agencies, give the Federal Reserve sweeping powers over systemically important institutions and create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. A new oversight council will bring together the heads of surviving agencies to close gaps in the regulatory structure.

Debate over the plan and massive lobbying efforts are expected to consume Congress' attention over the next several months

But Geithner said the changes were needed to rebuild confidence in the U.S. financial system.

We may disagree about the details, and we will have to work through those issues. But ordinary Americans have suffered too much; trust in our financial system has been too shaken; our economy has been brought too close to the brink for us to let this moment pass, Geithner said.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Kenneth Barry)