05/20/2010 03:09 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Shelby, Key Republican Senator, Will Back Bank Trading Ban Amendment

Richard Shelby, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, will vote for a controversial amendment to ban banks from trading taxpayer-backed money for their own profit, he told HuffPost Wednesday. The amendment, cosponsored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), has been battling for a vote on the floor and is fiercely opposed by Wall Street.

Shelby's backing gives the bill a boost as it nears a floor showdown. Denied a vote earlier this week, Levin and Merkley have since attached it to an amendment guaranteed to get a vote, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.).

Brownback's amendment is strongly opposed by progressives, consumer advocates and military officials, because it would exempt auto dealers from consumer financial protection rules.

On Wednesday, senior White House economic adviser Paul Volcker sent a letter to Merkley and Levin backing their amendment, which is patterned after an idea he has championed and which has become known the "Volcker Rule."

Shelby previously voted for an amendment from Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) that would have capped the size of big banks.

Shelby, however, had previously blocked Merkley-Levin from coming to a vote on the Senate floor, so his support was anything but assured.