McConnell Softens, Says Agreement On Financial Reform Within Reach

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell struck a markedly different tone on financial regulatory reform today, suggesting an agreement could be struck with Democrats sooner rather than later. And Democrats have taken notice.

“We believe the process to achieve [a bipartisan bill] has now been reconstituted,” McConnell told reporters after the Republicans’ weekly caucus meeting this afternoon. “We are all confident that this can be fixed… Senator Shelby [the Republicans’ chief financial reform negotiator] believes that there’s been a very serious effort to re-engage.”McConnell credited his own efforts to unite the Republican caucus in opposition to the bill as it stands for sparking a breakthrough.

Democrats find this simultaneously annoying, but also promising. On the one hand, they say negotiations never stopped, and that they plan to bring the bill up as is, whether or not agreement is reached, early next week.

“Talk about taking people taking credit for things–that’s like the rooster taking credit for the morning,” Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), the Democrats’ reg reform point man, told reporters after a caucus meeting. “This has been ongoing for people who have been following this thing. Welcome to the discussion…. Where has the [Republican] leader been?”

But at the same time, aides say, they believe this is a sign that the Republican bloc is beginning to fracture. Is this a true breakthrough? Are Dems getting ahead of themselves? We should know very soon.

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