Financial Reform Chicken

  • Share
  • Read Later

“We’re very close to a deal,” Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee said Wednesday. “We’ll take the next step,” intoned Senator Olympia Snowe, a prime target for aisle-crossing outreach. “Folks on our side of the aisle want a bill,” Bob Corker, a key GOP architect of portions of the Senate bill, drawled.

Majority Leader Harry Reid is having none of it. Jaded by a health care debate marked by endlessly moving goal posts and emboldened by a fresh political tailwind, the Nevada Democrat filed for cloture on the Dodd financial reform bill Thursday afternoon despite Republican objections that the move is premature and more negotiation is needed. The move sets up a procedural vote late Monday where the banking bill will need 60 votes, including at least one Republican, to move to full floor debate.

“I’m not going to waste any more time of the American people while they come up with some agreement,” Reid said. “The games of stalling are over.”

His intention is to, as Karen might say, Make Them Filibuster. (Can I say that? Do I owe royalties?)

Democrats feel they’re in a win-win situation. If the bill moves ahead, it’s one step closer to crossing an important item off the agenda. If the GOP obstructs, it’s fodder for “Party of No” taunting. Republicans maintain they’ll oppose the motion, and Mitch McConnell has a strong track record when it comes to holding caucus unity. But the incentive structure is much different than it’s been in recent battles on the Hill.

As for the policy, the legislation will still be subject to amendments, large and small, after the vote. Major Republican-sought concessions are not (publicly) well defined; their biggest critique has been they don’t want “bailouts in perpetuity,” but that’s not actually in the bill. They may take the resolution fund as a trophy and declare victory, but it’s hardly a pillar of the overall package (The Obama administration isn’t even wild about it.)

Reid is looking to strike while the iron is hot. While it’s just one vote and there are more to come, clearing Monday’s procedural hurdle would give financial reform considerable momentum. Getting to 60 is always hardest the first time.