How can you identify a Republican moderate in the U.S. Senate? They are the ones who seem to have trouble hearing Mitch McConnell when he goes off on a particularly over-the-top anti-regulation rant.
Over the last two days I’ve asked three different Republicans about the Senate Minority Leader’s remarks yesterday (both on the Senate floor and at his weekly press conference) where he claimed the Democrats’ financial regulatory reform bill “not only allows for taxpayer funded bailouts for Wall Street banks–it actually institutionalizes them.”
The responses were strangely similar.“I did not hear Senator McConnell’s speech on the floor,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) today, before walking into a meeting with other Republicans.
“I didn’t hear his characterization,” said Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) this afternoon off the Senate floor.
“I haven’t read the comments,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) yesterday, “my staff has them in my chair.”
Moments before making her statement, though, Collins listed a number of provisions in the bill she agrees with (though she noted she’s unhappy that the White House has nixed squashed potential compromises between Democrats and Republicans).
Snowe likewise thinks the bill needs to be bipartisan, and puts the blame for the current gridlock at the feet of Democrats.
Corker was once a GOP point man on regulatory reform, and has criticized his own leadership for withholding support for Dodd’s efforts.
Of course, McConnell’s remarks, and the GOP’s unified message against the Democrats’ bill was widely reported by mid-day yesterday. This isn’t to suggest that any of these Republicans will break from their party and support the bill. But you can see why Dems might think they can peel off a vote or three.