With the passage of an amendment this afternoon to change the way the Democrats' proposed Wall Street reforms would wind down failed financial institutions, the debate is truly, finally, on. Now all that's left is for Democrats to blast through 100 or so separate amendments in the next few days to meet their goal of finishing up work on the bill by early next week.
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That wouldn't be so hard under ideal circumstances: Democratic and Republican negotiators could sift through the pile, eliminate redundancies, toss out non-germane proposals, combine others into a managers amendment, and hold up or down votes on the remaining batch.
But in this highly partisan atmosphere, a single objection at a key moment could set things back for days, and that would leave Democratic leadership forced to choose between pushing back their deadline, or retracting their promise to allow an open amendment process.