Earlier today, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln's (D-AR) derivatives bill passed through committee. The vote was on mostly partisan lines, as Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was the lone Republican vote in favor. Does this indicate that he might also be willing to cross the aisle and vote for the Banking Committee's broader financial reform package that Democrats support? Not just yet.
In a memo addressing this question, Grassley says that he supported the derivatives bill because, while not perfect, he thinks it is on the right track. Yet, regarding the broader reform legislation, he says:
My vote for this important reform of the derivatives market doesn't mean I'll be able to support the larger financial reform bill on the Senate floor. The derivatives piece is significant, but that larger bill has a number of flaws that need to be resolved before I'd support it. Again, I hope the majority leadership of the Senate allows the kind of debate, negotiation and amendment process needed to make those kinds of changes so that representative government can work as it should.
Earlier today, new reports indicated that a bipartisan bill may be close. It still looks like such an effort will be necessary, because no Republican has offered to support the bill and end the threat of filibuster. The statement above makes clear that Grassley's vote today doesn't indicate that he intends to be that rebel swing vote.
This strategy makes sense in a political context. Grassley is from Iowa and the agricultural industry strongly supports reducing Wall Street's influence on derivatives. Yet, Grassley clearly has no intention of going against the rest of his party and supporting the broader bill in its current form.
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