During health care reform, senators strengthened and hammered out the bill in committee before it hit the floor. This go-around, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) decided to pass the bill through the Banking Committee on a party-line vote (the vote took all of 20 minutes) and to allow a substantive amendment process. Senators were nearing the end of that process today, but major provisions promised a vote remained without one — including Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Carl Levin’s (D-Mich.) amendment banning proprietary trading at commercial banks and Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) amendment reinstituting the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act.
Midday, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called off a planned cloture vote. At 3:15, Democrats went into an emergency caucus meeting. When they emerged, Reid called the vote again, despite the number of major amendments still pending. The Senate rejected the measure, 57 to 42, with Cantwell and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) joining most Republicans to keep debate open.
Of course, losing this vote is not losing the bill. Reid has already said he plans to have the Senate vote again tomorrow. Still, the politics felt fevered today.
Reid has pointed his finger at the Republicans, despite the progressive crossovers. He released a statement, saying: “At every stage of this debate, Republicans and their friends on Wall Street have worked overtime to weaken this bill because they view it as a threat to business as usual. They know these reforms — reforms the American people overwhelmingly support and demand — will finally hold Wall Street accountable. I am calling on my Republican colleagues to start putting the interests of families, small businesses and seniors over those of big banks on Wall Street.” He later said one senator broke his or her promise on the vote, then suggested it was Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).
Feingold released a statement saying: “After thirty years of giving in to the wishes of Wall Street lobbyists, Congress needs to finally enact tough reforms to prevent Wall Street from driving our economy into the ditch again. We need to eliminate the risk posed to our economy by ‘too big to fail’ financial firms and to reinstate the protective firewalls between Main Street banks and Wall Street firms. Unfortunately, these key reforms are not included in the bill. The test for this legislation is a simple one: Whether it will prevent another financial crisis. As the bill stands, it fails that test. Ending debate on the bill is finishing before the job is done.”
And, for her part, Cantwell said that the hold-up on the vote was due to another senator’s family matter — not due to Reid wrangling with her, though Reid was on camera speaking to Cantwell during the vote — and that she [wants](“At every stage of this debate, Republicans and their friends on Wall Street have worked overtime to weaken this bill because they view it as a threat to business as usual. They know these reforms – reforms the American people overwhelmingly support and demand – will finally hold Wall Street accountable. “I am calling on my Republican colleagues to start putting the interests of families, small businesses and seniors over those of big banks on Wall Street.”) the Senate to close a loophole that might allow some firms not complying with derivatives clearinghouse requirements to avoid any penalties before another cloture vote.
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