Bipartisan Wall Street reform negotiations appeared on the brink of collapse Tuesday night after Republican and Democratic principals found themselves at an impasse over the issue of consumer financial protection. But though Republicans have been promising all week to sustain a filibuster, blocking debate on the Democrats’ legislation, they now seem prepared to cede the current fight, explicitly saying that, if talks don’t bear fruit soon, they’ll allow the bill to move to the floor.
“I don’t feel like there’s a real possibility in the near future of getting a bipartisan bill… I just don’t feel that’s a possibility,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told reporters in response to a question from TPMDC.Corker hasn’t decided if he himself will ultimately vote to break a GOP filibuster of financial reform legislation. But he’s fairly certain that a global agreement between Democrats and Republicans is impossible. “I don’t feel under any pressure [but] I’m just far less optimistic than I’ve ever been.”
Unlike Corker, though, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), long thought to be a financial reform swing vote, told reporters tonight that he’ll give negotiations between Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) a bit more time. He says he’s likely to vote to sustain the filibuster again tomorrow–but if there’s no breakthrough soon, he will eventually vote with the Democrats to debate the legislation on the floor.
“Of course I will. We’ll just get it out there and move on with it,” Voinovich said in response to a question from TPMDC, adding “I think you’ll see a whole bunch of other people come to the table and say ‘let’s get on with it.”
“I have an idea how much time it takes to cut a deal,” Voinovich said.
Surprisingly, Shelby seemed sympathetic to Voinovich’s position.
“The next day or so is very important to see where we are, because ultimately we will have to go to the floor, and we will not be able to resolve everything in this, but whatever we can agree on would be progress,” Shelby told reporters tonight just off the Senate floor.
When I told him of Voinovich’s comments, he was surprisingly unperturbed. “I would feel that way too,” Shelby said. “I would think if we can’t make substantive progress in the next couple days…I’d feel the same way.”
Shelby and Dodd will meet again tonight, in what is likely to be their most pivotal meeting of the week.
Perhaps in preparation for talks to break down, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell amplified his criticism of the Dodd bill today, calling it “a dramatic overreach.”
Democrats have another vote prepared for tomorrow. According to Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, they have the next two weeks blocked off to deal with financial reform, and are prepared to keep pressing the issue until the GOP caves.