The House has passed a bill to rein in salaries and bonuses at big businesses.
Democrats blame executives greedy for huge pay and bonuses for taking risky behavior that helped bring on the financial crisis.
Republicans warn the bill will be a dangerous intrusion of government bureaucrats into the capitalist system.
"We all have a stake in changing this system, we all have a stake in making sure people get paid for performance and not paid by putting taxpayers and the financial system at risk," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said.
"And now they want to decide for millions and millions of Americans whether or not they can ever receive a sales commission or a Christmas bonus that they may view as too risky," Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said.
Bill-backers say it will only affect Wall Street firms, but opponents warn it could apply much more broadly and hit many businesses with more than a billion dollars in assets.