Enter multiple symbols separated by commas

Senate Wages Fresh War Against Big Banks

Apparently the unanimous vote in Washington is not extinct.

On Saturday, as part of a marathon voting session in the Senate to pass the country's first budget in four years, a measure was also approved 99-0 that sought to "end subsidies" based on size for the nation's six largest financial institutions.

In essence, the Senate is saying banks should sustain an extra cost— not a lower cost—for being big.

(Read More: Fed Okays Plans at 14 Big Banks)

JPMorgan Chase
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

While many ideas for the tactic have been in the works since last year, it appears the so-called surcharge will emerge as yet another extra layer of capital banks must hold, according to a spokesman for Sen. David Vitter, R-La., co-sponsor of the bill. The spokesman said a separate bill outlining the plan could be introduced in the Senate as early as April, though the details of suggested capital levels or thresholds could not be learned.

(Read More: Cyprus Aside, Big US Banks Will Rise Further: Analyst)

The idea appears to have the backing of the Federal Reserve: It was first introduced by Sen. Vitter and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in a letter to Chairman Ben Bernanke in August 2012, and Bernanke referenced the move in his annual press conference last week.

When asked about how Washington would go about fixing banks that were "too big to fail," Bernanke responded: "One of the things that will be proposed and is not in effect yet will be surcharges on the largest banks, that is, the largest financial institutions will have to hold more capital as a percent of their risk-weighted assets than smaller banks do."

(Read More: Is Fed Signaling Stance on Bank Break-Ups?)

This would come on top of already-steep capital demands to which the largest banks have had to adjust in the last few years. Under Basel III, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup must post ratios of 9.5 percent of Tier 1 capital. For Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the level is 8.5 percent. Wells Fargo, the sixth bank to be fingered in the Senate's bill, is the lowest, at 8 percent.

By CNBC's Kayla Tausche; Follow her on Twitter: @KaylaTausche


  • China's rally sidelined by mid-year audit: Pro

    Andrew Sullivan, managing director of sales trading at Haitong International Securities, says Chinese banks and insurance firms have taken out some liquidity from the market as they proceed with their half-year audit.

  • BNP Paribas CEO: Greece has limited impact

    Jean-Laurent Bonnafe, CEO of BNP Paribas, says the euro zone is now a very different place in terms of risk to Greece and describes the tumble in global markets as a "normal reaction."

  • What the fate of the Ex-Im Bank means for small business

    The clock is ticking for the Export-Import Bank. CNBC's Kate Rogers talk to Susan Axelrod, who exports quiches and desserts all over the globe via credit insurance from the bank and hears from Rep. Jeb Hensarling on why the Export-Import Bank needs to die.