Republicans Relent, Will Let Debate Begin

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Senate Republicans announced this afternoon that they will allow financial reform legislation onto the chamber floor for a debate after bipartisan talks hit an impasse.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee who has been in bipartisan negotiations with chairman Chris Dodd, released a statement announcing talks could go no further.

“We have been unable, however, to make any meaningful progress on other important components of the legislation. It is now my belief that further negotiations will not produce additional results,” Shelby wrote.Shelby said he had gotten assurances from Dodd that “he will address a number of concerns” about ending taxpayer-funded bailouts. Those assurances, however, aren’t enough for Shelby to support bringing the bill to the floor.

“I thank my Republican colleagues for their support and defer to their individual judgments on whether the Senate begins a floor debate on this bill,” he wrote.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced shortly thereafter that the bill would move forward.

“Now that those bipartisan negotiations have ended, it is my hope that the majority’s avowed interest in improving this legislation on the Senate floor is genuine and the partisan gamesmanship is over,” he said in a statement. (Emphasis is ours.)

McConnell maintained that the three-times-over Republican block of the bill gave them enough time to get important assurances from Dodd. He even praised Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), who voted with Republicans to block the legislation, by name.

“The time afforded by my Republican colleagues and Sen. Ben Nelson was instrumental in gaining assurances from the Chairman that changes will be made to end taxpayer bailouts and the dangerous notion that certain financial institutions are too big to fail.”

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