Sen. Al Franken is fighting to keep his biggest contribution to the Senate’s financial reform bill in the final package after Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank suggested watering down Franken’s amendment.

Frank, chair of the conference committee that’s reconciling the House and Senate bills, proposed today that the final measure include an SEC study to examine an independent board for credit rating agencies— striking out Franken’s amendment that would create the board outright.

Frank’s spokesman Steve Adamske said that Franken’s amendment was new and untested, which is why Frank wanted to study the idea first. “We’re trying to meet the Senate halfway,” Adamske said.

But Franken responded that the “House language is very concerning” and he did not believe a study was necessary.

“We know what went wrong with Wall Street’s credit rating system — conflicts of interest eroded it by rewarding cozy relationships instead of accuracy,” Franken's spokeswoman said in a statement. “You can be sure that if such a study came back, it would confirm the conflicts of interest. It just makes more sense to end the delay and instate the reform now.”

Franken’s amendment included in the Senate bill would create an independent board within the SEC to assign credit rating agencies to rate bonds.

Franken, along with Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Democrat Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., sent a letter to all conference committee members today urging them to keep the amendment in the final legislation.

The credit rating issue will be taken up tomorrow in the conference committee.

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