Sen. Dodd urges consumer finance protection agency

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd on Thursday called for creation of an independent consumer protection agency as part of wider reforms to the U.S. financial regulatory structure.

“If the financial crisis has proven one thing, it is that protecting the financial well-being of American consumers should be our first priority as we work to bring our financial regulatory structure into the 21st century,” the Connecticut Democrat said in a statement.

The committee said the agency as proposed by Dodd would have broad enforcement authority over credit and bank products, and would have a seat with bank safety and soundness regulators as part of a financial systemic risk council.

The Obama administration plans to release a wide-ranging proposal for overhauling U.S. financial rules next Wednesday.

Dodd, as chairman of the Senate banking panel, will play an instrumental role in the effort to revamp the regulatory structure. He said earlier this week he plans to focus first on healthcare reform and will not take up financial regulation until after a congressional recess in August.

Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by James Dalgleish