Dodd To Hold Committee Vote on Financial Reform Tonight?

By Daniel Indiviglio

The Senate Banking Committee's markup of Chairman Dodd's financial reform proposal is set to begin tonight at 5pm. Reports indicate that mark-up may end tonight as well. Rather than actually hold legitimate mark-up of the bill, there may just be an up-down vote. This is troubling.

Shahien Nasiripour of the Huffington Post reports:

A key Senate Republican says that the committee responsible for authoring new rules to rein in Wall Street will vote on the proposed bill Monday evening, abandoning plans to debate the most ambitious financial reform proposals since the Great Depression and temporarily ignoring more than 400 amendments to the bill suggested by senators.

That Republican is Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), an ally of reform who was troubled when Dodd decided to ditch bipartisan efforts and ram the 1,336-page bill through as quickly as possible. This move would bring that speed to a new level. Republicans and others had assumed that mark-up would last at least a week. If the vote takes place tonight, as indicated, then there would be no mark-up at all.

I'm a little unclear as to why there won't be mark-up. The article above doesn't really make clear if this is the committee's decision on a whole, or if Dodd is just trying to skip debate and bring the bill to the Senate floor as quickly as possible. I have requests in to both Dodd's and Corker's offices for comment, so I'll update this if I hear anything new.

Even if the vote is held tonight, the bill should easily pass committee. Dodd has a 13-to-10 Democrat-to-Republican majority to work with. Unless he's somehow alienated other Democrats on the committee, this should be the easy part.

The floor of the Senate will be a different story. There, Democrats no longer have a filibuster-proof majority. As a result, they'll be forced to consider amendments and engage in debate.

I'm really disappointed that this effort is being rushed. It seems like providing at least some time for the committee to work out some of the kinks in the bill through mark-up would be prudent. After all, that is how these things generally work. The House bill was improved substantially through this process.

I've expressed my dislike for Dodd's decision to push forward without bipartisan support as well. It feels a lot like the ugly health care debate all over again. But this sudden sense of urgency makes matters even stranger. After waiting until November -- more than a year after the financial crisis hit its climax -- to release an unrealistically ambitious draft, why the surprising rush?

After losing a bitter health care battle, Republicans will likely be practically foaming at the mouth, eager to assert themselves in whatever Democrats hope to accomplish next. Financial regulation will likely find itself in that awkward position. And that's a shame. In the Senate, any eagerness to work together will be even more strained after Dodd snubbed their willingness to work towards a bipartisan compromise in committee. Passing financial reform is shaping up to be messy and difficult.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/03/dodd-to-hold-committee-vote-on-financial-reform-tonight/37845/