Word is that the Democrats might make the Republicans actually filibuster FinReg tonight. That is to say, stand on the floor and talk and talk and talk. And if the Democrats are serious about forcing the Republicans to really filibuster the bill, this is the right week for it: The Kentucky Derby starts Friday, and Kentucky’s senior senator, Mitch McConnell, would surely prefer to attend. Given that his members are already talking about breaking ranks, McConnell may find himself eager to get this kabuki dance over with a little bit early.
Daniel Foster at The Corner:
David Dayen at Firedoglake:
Multiple outlets are reporting a deal on moving the Wall Street reform bill to the floor. The AP:
Senate Republicans are prepared to end their stalling tactics on new banking regulations and will attempt to change the bill on the Senate floor, Republican officials said.
Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking committee, said he has assurances that Democrats will adjust his banking regulation bill to address concerns that it perpetuates bailouts.
The concession sets the stage for Republicans to withdraw objections that have stalled the bill in the Senate.
However, if you read Shelby’s actual statement about this, he says that talks between him and Chris Dodd have reached an impasse, particularly on consumer protection issues, and he’s breaking them off indefinitely. There are assurances on the too big to fail piece but not much else. Shelby closed by thanking his Republican colleagues for standing strong with him while the bipartisan process played out, saying he would “defer to their individual judgments on whether the Senate begins a floor debate on this bill.”
So maybe that means a few members can get picked off for the motion to proceed, or maybe not. It’s unclear. Republicans probably don’t want to go through the threatened all-night session, and so maybe the motion to proceed passes. But it cannot until 1:00am, so before then Democrats would have to get unanimous consent on the bill to proceed.
Rachel Slajda at Talking Points Memo:
Senate Republicans announced this afternoon that they will allow financial reform legislation onto the chamber floor for a debate after bipartisan talks hit an impasse.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee who has been in bipartisan negotiations with chairman Chris Dodd, released a statement announcing talks could go no further.
“We have been unable, however, to make any meaningful progress on other important components of the legislation. It is now my belief that further negotiations will not produce additional results,” Shelby wrote.
Shelby said he had gotten assurances from Dodd that “he will address a number of concerns” about ending taxpayer-funded bailouts. Those assurances, however, aren’t enough for Shelby to support bringing the bill to the floor.
“I thank my Republican colleagues for their support and defer to their individual judgments on whether the Senate begins a floor debate on this bill,” he wrote.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced shortly thereafter that the bill would move forward.
Stephen Spruiell at The Corner:
Dodd has assured Shelby that he will address a number of concerns Shelby expressed with respect to ending bailouts, but he will not address problems with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the proxy-access provisions or (the somewhat less problematic, in my view) derivatives rules. We will have to watch the bill closely to see what loopholes Dodd actually closes, but I would guess that, at the very least, he will insert language to reduce the FDIC’s discretion along the lines of what the GOP suggested in its alternative proposal: “The FDIC would have to recoup from creditors any amounts that a creditor had received in excess of what it would have received in bankruptcy. This gives the FDIC the flexibility to advance funds to creditors to prevent or mitigate a systemic crisis, but then ensures the FDIC is not bailing out creditors.”
Since this outcome was all but preordained — Democrats couldn’t support “bailouts”; moderate Republicans weren’t going to filibuster over “consumer protection” — why didn’t Dodd just agree to these changes on Monday? The answer is exactly what you think it is: The Democrats wanted to force the GOP to filibuster “Wall Street reform” a few times in order to milk their political advantage.
But will the politics really play out the way Democrats think they will? Depending on what changes Dodd makes to the bill, Republicans will be able to say that they forced Democrats to close bailout loopholes that would have allowed Wall Street to take on more risk and leverage. If the bill ends up getting 70-80 votes after the bailout provisions are stripped out, then which party is going to look like they were holding out on Wall Street’s behalf? In any case, I’m not sure that these three days in late April are going to weigh heavily on voters’ minds in November.
As for the policy, it will be crucially important to track changes to the bill and to track the bill through conference (assuming there is one this time). The political fight is over, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop keeping score.
Annie Lowrey at The Washington Independent:
That means that Senate Democrats will not need to force an all-night filibuster, as they threatened to do earlier today.
It does not mean that Republicans agree to the bill, of course. The GOP is working on changing the resolution authority provisions before formal debate starts. And once on the floor, the bill will go through numerous, and possibly substantive, amendments proposed by both Republicans and Democrats. For a guide to those changes, see TWI’s roundup here.