Why Financial Reform Is Now in Doubt

Some fear it's lost the necessary votes

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Since mid-May, financial regulatory reform looked all but certain to pass this summer. In June, both the House and Senate sent their approved versions of the bill to be hammered out by conference committee, which would then return the legislation for final approval by both chambers. But, in the the short days since then, regulatory reform's support in the Senate has faltered to the point that it may no longer have the required 60 votes. How did this happen and what does it mean for the legislation that was meant to rein in Wall Street and prevent another crash?

  • Who's Dropping Out NBC News' First Read writes, "As was the case with health care, Senate Democrats getting 60 votes for final passage of financial reform hasn't been an easy exercise. First came word that GOP Sen. Scott Brown, who joined the Democrats in the eventual 60-40 cloture vote last month, is re-thinking his vote to fees and taxes in the conference bill. Then Sen. Robert Byrd, who also supported the legislation, passed away. Those losses could be made up if the two Dems who joined the GOP filibuster because it wasn't liberal enough -- Russ Feingold and Maria Cantwell -- change their minds from last month. But yesterday, Feingold said he was willing to block the conference bill."
  • Swing Republicans Looking for Concessions The Economist writes, "Three Republican votes are now needed in the Senate, and potential recruits are sensing the opportunity to extract concessions." Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins of Maine, and Olympia Snowe of Maine are protesting a fee that "was introduced during the conference session and is designed to cover the cost of the bill, that is, to make sure it's deficit neutral. It's a modest amount, and it's levied on entities that have benefited significantly from the massive government intervention deployed to keep the financial system afloat during the financial crisis. And yet the most moderate Republicans in the Senate are balking at the charge. Not because they disagree in any real sense with the economics of the fee. They simply won't vote for anything that looks like a tax."
  • ...But They're Facing Pressure at Home Daily Kos's Joan McCarter writes, "Like Scott Brown, Collins had provisions in the bill, having gotten amendments in during the Senate floor process, and like Brown is now playing hard to get. But she's worried about the politics back home since the teabaggers hijacked the Maine Republican Party, and now she is fretting that she might just not be able to vote to pass this bill."
  • Key Dem Also Opposes Liberal blogger Big Tent Democrat explores the opposition of Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, who says the bill is not strong enough. "I want to take a look at Feingold's position for a moment and consider whether he is engaged in political bargaining and whether his use of the filibuster procedure is a good idea. ... But what votes do you lose if you assuage Feingold? Collins and Scott Brown (who was given key concessions for no good reason since he is still a No vote, talk about bad bargaining by Dems) are still Nos who might flip, in theory, if they are given more concessions."
  • Why This Jeopardizes Everything The Washington Post's Ezra Klein explains, "Conference reports can be filibustered, but they can't be amended. Short of going back to conference and coming out with a new report, the legislation can't, at this point, be tweaked and changed to pick up the final votes."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.