After balking at a $19 billion hedge-fund fee, Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown has finally thrown in his support for the financial reform bill, bringing the vote count to 59. Now one vote away from achieving the necessary supermajority, the bill will need to pick up support from Republican Senator Olympia Snowe or from the late Senator Byrd's still-unappointed replacement. Most commentators argue that the way has been cleared to pass the historic bill, though only time will tell. Here's what Brown's support means for his career and for the legislation.

  • Brown's Statement In a statement released on Monday, Scott Brown explains that "I've spent the past week reviewing the Wall Street reform bill. I appreciate the efforts to improve the bill, especially the removal of the $19 billion bank tax. As a result, it is a better bill than it was when this whole process started. While it isn't perfect, I expect to support the bill when it comes up for a vote. It includes safeguards to help prevent another financial meltdown, ensures that consumers are protected, and it is paid for without new taxes. That doesn't mean our work is done. Further reforms are still needed to address the government's role in the financial crisis, including significant changes to the way Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac operate."
  • The Path to 60 Ken Strickland of First Read lays it out in concise form. In a second post with fellow First-Read writer Mark Murray, Strickland writes that "This pretty much guarantees the legislation will clear the Senate."
GOP Sen. Susan Collins is "inclined" to support bill
-- That brings the number back up to 58
-- GOP Sen. Scott Brown says today he "expects" to support bill
-- That brings the number up to 59
-- GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe told Reuters on Saturday that she's "still looking at it"

-- That would/could push it to 60... OR
-- If/when West Virginia Gov. Manchin appoints Byrd's replacement that would be 60 (without Snowe's support)

  • Still a Question Mark on Snowe Tabassum Zakaria of Reuters puts the spotlight on the Maine Republican: "On Saturday Snowe said she hadn't decided and that the most important thing was "to get it right." Her view had not changed so far today, a staffer tells me. ... Snowe has a history of bucking her party line -- she was the first Republican vote for healthcare reform last year. So far on financial regulatory reform Snowe is still a big question mark and the suspense continues..."
  • Cements Brown's Chances of Holding Onto Seat Steve Kornacki of Salon says this decision is consistent with Brown's ambition to hold onto his seat in 2012. "By separating himself from the bulk of his party in the Senate on some key issues, he's generated headlines that indicate to most voters back home that he's not a Jim DeMint clone. Thus, the (considerable) chunk of Bay State voters "who aren't thrilled with the Obama administration but who remain wary of the ideologues who dominate the national GOP feel safe in lining up with Brown. This bodes well, obviously, for Brown's chances in '12."
  • Fallout on the Right Philip Klein of the conservative American Spectator shakes his head. "While it was always clear that Brown was a moderate who would cast some votes with Democrats given the constituents he's representing, so far, he hasn't proven of much help to the conservatives who helped get him elected. Though Brown's election derailed the health care push for awhile, it did not ultimately defeat the legislation. And since then he's had a liberal voting record on key issues." Steven Spruiell of National Review shares the disappointment, but has sympathy. "It's sad to see Brown cave on this. That said, it's easy to understand why he's doing it." Adam Sorensen of Time cheekily call Brown the "Champion of the Democratic Agenda."