Greatest Deliberative Body Or Lord Of The Flies?

Daniel Indiviglio at The Atlantic:

The financial reform debate will go on. A motion to limit debate and consider the Senate’s regulation bill as is failed this afternoon, by a vote of 57 to 42. It needed 60 votes to pass. What went wrong? Two Democrats broke with their party.

In fact, two Republicans voted for the motion — the Senators from Maine Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. All other republicans voted against it. But with 59 seats, Democrats only actually needed one Republican to defect, so those two should have been plenty. That means Democrats have their own party to blame for preventing the bill from moving forward.

Two Democrats were responsible for the bill failing: Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA) and Sen. Russ Feingold (WI). Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) also voted against the motion, but did so for the procedural purpose of being able to call it back up later. Arlen Specter (D-PA) did not vote.

So why did Cantwell vote ‘no’? She had actually already threatened to do so if her amendment was not heard. It wasn’t. Her proposal would reinstate Glass-Steagall, which forbid retail banks from certain investment banking activities. She made good on her promise. After the vote, she began speaking in favor of her amendment on the Senate floor.

David Dayen at Firedoglake, earlier in the day:

I’ve been using a #lordofthefliesonthesenatefloor hashtag to discuss the Wall Street reform bill today, and I think it accurately describes what’s going on. Basically, Harry Reid tried to line up a cloture vote today to end debate, and he got buy-off from the center-right, with Ben Nelson and Susan Collins agreeing to vote for it. But the haphazard nature of the amendments process, with Republicans blocking consumer-friendly strengthening amendments at the last minute, has made some Democrats furious. Reid tried to set up a few amendment votes before cloture, but Carl Levin objected because the Merkley-Levin amendment (the Volcker rule) wasn’t among them. The Democrats took it offline, heading to a caucus meeting to figure this out.

Ben Frumin at Talking Points Memo:

Also today, TPMDC confirmed that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) plans to drop his push to weaken derivatives reform.

Late Update: Feingold has released the following statement explaining his “no” vote, saying that “Ending debate on the bill is finishing before the job is done.”

After thirty years of giving in to the wishes of Wall Street lobbyists, Congress needs to finally enact tough reforms to prevent Wall Street from driving our economy into the ditch again. We need to eliminate the risk posed to our economy by ‘too big to fail’ financial firms and to reinstate the protective firewalls between Main Street banks and Wall Street firms. Unfortunately, these key reforms are not included in the bill. The test for this legislation is a simple one – whether it will prevent another financial crisis. As the bill stands, it fails that test. Ending debate on the bill is finishing before the job is done.Later Update: After the vote, Reid told reporters that “a Senator broke his word with me.” He didn’t name names.

Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason:

The Senate is voting on whether to limit debate and amendments to the financial reform bill right now. Go watch the roll call with the Sunlight Foundation folks, who are annotating the vote with info about campaign contributions and personal asset statements, and offering handy explainer chats for those not in the habit of watching CSPAN for fun.

Read more about the bill here and here.

UPDATE: 57 votes for cloture. Motion fails. The debate continues.

UPDATE 2: Nope. They’re voting again!

UPDATE 3: Nope again. More yammering and then a quorum call.

Michael Hirsch at Newsweek:

The Democrats’ inability to get the needed 60 votes for “cloture” was yet more evidence of a worsening state of disunity and confusion in the party. It was also only the latest evidence of what happens when the White House, which purports to champion tough reform of Wall Street, leaves all the hard dealing to legislators.

Ezra Klein:

Before getting to what that means, it’s worth saying why Reid wants to move to a final vote. The answer is floor time. Next week, the Senate is scheduled to take up the next war supplemental, which will have funding both for Iraq and Afghanistan and also for various disaster-relief efforts, and it will take up a bill to extend economic supports for the jobless. If the Senate doesn’t finish financial regulation this week, it probably can’t do those bills next week because the GOP’s routine filibusters mean that each vote will require days of floor time. And the plan, as of now, is for the Senate to adjourn come Memorial Day. Of course, the Senate could just choose to work past memorial Day, which would solve the problem of floor time.

As for what happens now, debate on financial regulation will continue. More amendments will be considered, at least if Democrats and Republicans can come to an agreement on whether to consider them. And another cloture vote will have to be called. That might be bad for the Senate schedule, but it’s probably good for the bill. This is the rare process in which the amendments are making the legislation substantially better. If the Senate has to work over Memorial Day to accommodate that process, so be it.

UPDATE: And today, the bill passes. Max Fisher at The Atlantic with the early reactions.

1 Comment

Filed under Economics, Legislation Pending, The Crisis

One response to “Greatest Deliberative Body Or Lord Of The Flies?

  1. Pingback: What We’ve Built Today « Around The Sphere

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