Financial-overhaul bill garners Republican support
A key senator's support Monday for the sweeping overhaul of financial regulations probably assured its enactment, but the timing of a final vote remained up in the air.
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — A key senator's support Monday for the sweeping overhaul of financial regulations probably assured its enactment, but the timing of a final vote remained up in the air because Democratic leaders have no margin for error as they try to overcome a procedural roadblock by opponents.
Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, one of a handful of Republicans who voted for the Senate's version of the legislation, said he would vote for a newer version of the bill.
He had balked last month at revisions made by a joint House-Senate conference committee to fund the bill's $19 billion cost over the next 10 years. But the conference committee reconvened late last month to make changes to satisfy him.
Brown's backing should give supporters the 60 votes needed to avoid a Republican-led filibuster. Democratic leaders were in the same position in May when they scraped together the votes needed to stem a filibuster and approve the Senate version of the bill.
The White House had hoped the Senate would act quickly when it returned this week from its Fourth of July recess to pass the financial-overhaul bill, the top legislative priority of President Obama and congressional Democratic leaders.
The House approved the conference committee's final version June 30 in a vote largely along partisan lines.
But last month's death of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., a solid vote for the legislation, left Democratic leaders recounting their votes as West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin and state officials deliberated over a temporary appointment and special elections.
Manchin said Monday he probably would name a replacement this weekend.
The legislation would establish a bureau within the Federal Reserve to protect consumers in the financial marketplace, impose tough regulations on complex financial derivatives, and give the government authority to seize and dismantle teetering firms whose failure could cause an economic collapse.
Senate aides said Brown and two other Republicans who said they support the bill — Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine — might be uncomfortable providing the final votes to clear the way for passage. So Democratic leaders may wait for Byrd's successor, who could arrive next week.
Manchin, a Democrat, almost certainly will appoint a fellow Democrat to fill the seat, and that person probably would vote for the financial-overhaul legislation.
Although Byrd's seat remains vacant, supporters picked up a vote when Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said July 1 she would vote for the final bill. Her vote would make up for Byrd's, assuming all the other senators vote as they did in May.
Cantwell was one of two Democrats to oppose the legislation in May because she believed it would not do enough to rein in the use of complex financial securities known as derivatives.
Cantwell said she was satisfied with changes made by the conference committee, as well as assurances by the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission about how regulations of derivatives would be implemented.
Collins has said she will support the bill. Snowe said Monday that having reviewed the legislation, she also supports it. Collins, Snowe and Brown all voted to block the filibuster and to approve the legislation in May.
Another Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, voted for the Senate version once the procedural hurdle was overcome. But he did not vote to stop the filibuster. He has not said how he'll vote this time.