Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wall Street: Financial Regulatory Reform Getting a Full Senate Vote Soon?

Remember that thing called financial regulatory reform? Also referred to these days as Wall Street Reform? Well, Harry Reid hasn't... And he's trying to get a Senate floor vote ASAP this week. However, some Senators aren't making this easy.

Leadership wants every Democrat, and at least one Republican on board, but at this late hour it's not clear they have either. Feeling burned by leadership, and dubious that the legislation reaches far enough to truly rein in excess on Wall Street, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has threatened to join the filibuster, unless his amendment that would ban trading in naked credit default swaps gets a vote on the floor. Discussions between Dorgan and other leaders continues, but thus they remain at an impasse.

On the other side, GOP leaders would like more than anything to draw out floor action a bit longer. When Reid moved three weeks ago to bring the bill to the floor, Republicans held together for several days, repeatedly voting to delay the debate, but finally relented when moderates made it clear they wanted the filibuster to end. A repeat performance could be in order, though many of the same moderates, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), have seen their amendments adopted in the past several days.

The top financial reform negotiators, Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), have been putting together a final package of changes to round out the debate, and it is likely to scale back the bill's title regulating derivatives trading. That section of the legislation was authored by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who's in a closely contested primary and has been guarding her left flank--including by proposing tougher-than-expected derivatives rules. Democrats have sought to delay changing her plan until after today's election. In the end, the Democrats' ability to pass the bill may depend on when that so-called manager's amendment is complete.

Desert Beacon has done a great job in following the Wall Street debate in DC, so go ahead and check her archives if you need a refresher course on what's going on. And in the coming days, it will be interesting to see how today's primaries factor into this week's Senate vote.

All in all, the next few days of Wall Street Reform debate and voting in the Senate should be a wild ride. I hope Senator Reid has a good plan to ride it all the way to final passage (of a strong bill).

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