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Geithner sees Republican support on financial reform bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Friday he believed the Senate was "very close" to a financial reform bill that protects consumers and limits financial company risk taking that will win Republican supporters.

"We're very close on the substance," Geithner told Bloomberg Television in a live interview.

"I think that if you listen carefully, you'll see Republicans moving our way on this because it's very hard, given the damage caused by this crisis, for anyone to stand up and say, 'We don't need strong protections for consumers and we don't need to limit risk taking in the financial sector,'" Geithner said.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd has said he hopes to bring his reform bill to the Senate floor shortly after Congress returns from its Easter recess on April 12. The bill had no Republican votes in the committee, but Dodd hopes to win the backing of a handful of Republicans for Senate passage.

Republicans have objected to the creation of a new consumer financial protection agency, which Geithner reiterated was a core priority for reform. A House of Representatives bill contains a stand-alone agency.

"It's hard for anyone to be against that," Geithner said.

Geithner said that although the Obama administration the key test for the agency was that it has independent authority to set rules and enforce them across financial firms ranging from banks to payday lenders.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by John Picinich)

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