Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Sunday he was confident there was enough political unity on Capitol Hill for the Senate to forge a strong financial regulatory bill despite differences over some parts of it.
I believe that we are very close on this, Geithner said in an interview on NBC News' Meet the Press program, adding that Republicans and Democrats now agree on the vast bulk of things necessary to end 'too big to fail.'
During the financial crisis that struck in force in 2008, taxpayers were put at risk because the government decided it had to bail out ailing banks and other financial firms for fear that not doing so would harm the broader economy.
Proposals for winding up or putting ailing big financial firms into bankruptcy have already passed the U.S. House of Representatives but have yet to come before the Senate.
A massive financial regulatory bill aimed at tightening oversight of banks and capital markets is expected to come to the Senate floor later this summer for a final vote after Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd steers it through his committee.
Geithner, who has spearheaded the Obama administration's efforts to persuade Congress to move on reforms aimed at preventing a repeat of the devastating financial crisis, conceded there were still some problem areas.
We're not together on everything. I think on derivatives and on consumer protection, we're still some ways apart, he said. And we may not get there.
President Barack Obama said on Friday he would veto any bill that did not impose strong enough controls over markets for derivatives -- financial instruments that derive their value from the price of some underlying instrument or event.
Regulators on Friday charged Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs with fraud linked to subprime mortgages, which drove bank shares and the broader stock market lower on the day.
Geithner refused to comment on the charges against Goldman Sachs. He said there had been catastrophic failures in judgment by people who ran big U.S. financial institutions and the purpose of regulatory reform was to make sure they paid the consequences of their actions by themselves.
Then taxpayers will not be on the hook for bailing out these large institutions from their mistakes in the future, he said.
Geithner predicted the economy has reached a stage of recovery where sustained job growth can be expected. But he conceded that relatively high current unemployment levels meant the housing market still faces trouble.
That's the biggest risk now in terms of what's driving foreclosures ahead, he said.
(Reporting by Glenn Somerville, editing by Vicki Allen)