[Updated at 3:16 p.m.] The Senate on Thursday afternoon passed the most sweeping set of changes to the financial regulatory system since the 1930s, sending the Wall Street reform bill to President Obama.
The Senate voted 60 to 39 to pass the reforms, ending more than a year-long effort to pass legislation in response to the 2008 financial crisis.
Earlier in the day lawmkers voted 60-38 to end debate on the bill, with three Republicans joining Democrats to support it. The bill aims to strengthen consumer protection, rein in complex financial products and head off more bank bailouts.
[Posted at 11:40 a.m.] The Senate on Thursday morning voted to move the Wall Street reform package forward, assuring safe passage of the regulatory overhaul to President Obama's desk next week.
The Senate voted 60-38 to officially start debating the bill, which is expected to pass later on Thursday, congressional sources told CNN. Democrats only need the support of only 51 senators for final passage.
Three Republicans joined Democrats to vote to move the bill forward.
The bill aims to strengthen consumer protection, shine a light on complex financial products and establish a new process for shutting down giant financial firms in trouble.
The procedural vote was critical because of its high threshold. To secure 60 votes, Senate Democrats made lots of deals, which watered down the bill. For example, Wall Street banks will get wiggle room to make limited risky bets, which is tougher than the current law but weaker than earlier drafts.
How did we get here? Congress first started discussing an overhaul of the financial regulatory system in spring 2009.
After the House and Senate passed different versions of reforms, top negotiators from both chambers spent two weeks finding common ground. The negotiations culminated with an intense 20-hour meeting - during which many of the biggest policy decisions got made in the evening and early morning hours in hallway and backroom conversations - before a final vote around dawn on June 25.
The effort has been a bonanza for financial industry lobbyists. The sector spent nearly $600 million on lobbying since January 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Some 1,000 lobbyists were hired at some point since 2009 to influence the debate, according to Public Citizen, another watchdog group.