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Third Cloture Attempt to Start FinReg Debate Fails

With Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) siding again with the Republicans — none of whom crossed over to vote for cloture to start debate on Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) financial regulatory reform bill — the effort has failed for the third day in a row on a vote of 56 to 42. Reid immediately moved to reconsider, meaning that the Senate will make a fourth attempt tomorrow.

Dodd and Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have repeatedly slammed Republicans for blocking the start of formal debate on the bill, saying that they are keeping negotiations secret and that the two parties should hammer out their differences on the floor.

In truth, the two bills are not that dissimilar. One major change in the Republican proposal — the reform of Fannie and Freddie — is too complex to insert into the Dodd bill. But many other changes would be easy to sub in. Senate staffers say negotiations are centering on the Democrats’ adoption of the Republican version of resolution authority, which is virtually identical in the Republican proposal except that that any losses incurred by the government are recouped after the formal liquidation, rather than before (via the Obama bill’s $50 billion fund).

The Republicans viewed as most likely to switch continue to be Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine) and George Voinovich (Ohio).

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