Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has signaled that he may file for cloture on financial regulatory reform today, which would set the key Senate vote for Wednesday. If he does so and it passes, the move could secure the bill's passage in the Senate within this week. Are Democrats really that close?
- Soon, but Not This Week The Washington Independent's Annie Lowrey cautions, "I think this assessment is slightly rosy, though the final vote should come soon. If Reid files for cloture today, my guess is that he might not have 60 votes to end debate, as too many amendments are pending and too many senators have pet issues they want to see resolved. Additionally, if Reid files for cloture and the motion does pass, the Senate can debate the bill for only 30 hours more and no new amendments can be filed. That means no new compromise amendments on issues such as the Volcker rule, possibly meaning Reid might delay for another day or two."
- Don't Hold Your Breath Time's Michael Grunwald warns, "Every House Republican voted against the bill the House passed last year. Every Senate Republican signed a letter opposing the bill the Senate is debating now. Big Finance is spending $1.4 million a day to fight reform, with a lobbying army that includes 70 former Congressmen and just about everyone who ever staffed a congressional banking committee. It's certainly possible that Congress would resist all that pressure, and the same Republicans who marched in lockstep against health reform would stop blasting President Obama's socialism long enough to hand him another huge victory before the 2010 elections. It just doesn't seem all that likely."
- How Democrats Won The Argument Economics blogger Simon Johnson writes that the GOP position that "the reforms would make things worse" has "receded" due to poor reception. "The big banks have no good arguments on their side – they are reduced to asserting that being able to take risks in this manner actually makes the system more stable, a point directly contradicted by their experience in the run up to September 2008."
- ...But It's Still Not Enough Simon Johnson's big caveat: "All of these reforms add up to little more than 'baby steps' ... As a result, the financial system will remain largely the same as it was before September 2008."
- The Bill Got Tougher Over Time Politico's Javers and Shiner explain why that's a big deal. "The Wall Street reform bill is taking that rarest of paths through the Senate -- actually gaining tougher provisions against the industry as it proceeds, not being watered down to win votes as health care reform was. And that's put Republicans in a difficult spot. They like the bill less with each passing day but know they risk looking like they're siding with Wall Street if they vote no."
- Bill Adheres Closely to Obama's 'Blueprint' The Washington Post's Brady Dennis writes, "in the case of financial regulation, much more so than with health care, the Senate bill largely reflects the administration's initial blueprint, despite the fervent efforts of lobbyists and lawmakers of all stripes to alter it."
- The Conference Committee Challenge The Washington Post's Ezra Klein looks ahead to conference, where the Senate and House bills will go once passed. "Usually, conference committee is used to bring the more liberal House bill into line with the more conservative Senate bill. But given the string of unexpected amendment victories that reforms have amassed in the Senate bill -- many of which were opposed by the White House -- you could see this conference committee going the other way."