FinReg Lacks Votes for Passage
As of now, Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) financial regulatory reform bill has 93 confirmed votes on party lines. Just a few decisive senators remain. Yesterday, Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), a former no — meaning he voted against the Senate bill, before it was reconciled with the House version — said he will not vote for the conference committee report. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) has likewise decided not to support the bill. Still up in the air: Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), a former no and possible yes; Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), a former yes and likely yes; Susan Collins (R-Maine), a former yes and likely yes; and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a former yes and likely yes.
Thus far, Collins and Snowe have grumbled that they do not want to vote for the bill due to the new $19 billion tax on banks, added at the last minute by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who led the conference committee. But neither has ruled out voting for the bill entirely.
Normally, one would think that would mean the Democrats would offer one or a few of them something in exchange for their vote. (Think: Cornhusker kickback.) The problem is that amending a conference committee report is not nearly as simple as amending a regular bill; it would take considerable time to do. That means that Snowe, Collins or Brown might simply come around, or might win a verbal promise on another bill. It also means that Democrats might wait until Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) replacement is in place, making the math easier. Byrd passed away yesterday at the age of 92.