Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Thursday expressed dismay over Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) decision to move ahead with financial regulatory reform without a bipartisan agreement, saying the health care reform drive put pressure on Dodd to move too fast on the issue.
“Never did I realize that health care would affect financial regulatory reform,” Corker said, suggesting that the timeline for health care put pressure on Dodd to push a bill out of committee before the Easter break.
“I know the elephant in the room is reconciliation and trying to get a bill out before that time,” Corker said.
“There’s no question that White House politics and health care have kept us from getting to the finish line,” Corker added, later adding: “We were at the 5-yard line, and the lights went out.”
Corker spoke at a press conference minutes after Dodd announced he would unveil his bill next week. Despite Dodd’s decision, Corker vowed to continue negotiating as the committee prepares for a March 22 markup. But Corker was doubtful whether the committee could vote out a bill in one week, just before Congress adjourns March 26 for a two-week Easter recess.
“This is a very important bill, and I cannot imagine a committee member, Republican or Democrat, voting to pass this bill in a week,” Corker said. “If Senators can pass a bill of this substance in a week, a 1,200-page bill … then the states that elect them might as well elect robots.”
Corker repeatedly said “we were at the 5-yard line” in negotiations, and that just a handful of issues remained before he and Dodd could announce a bipartisan deal. Key sticking points include how to regulate derivatives, a component of the bill being negotiated by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), and how to structure a consumer protection agency within the Federal Reserve. Both pieces are considered crucial.
Dodd announced earlier Thursday that he would unveil a regulatory overhaul bill on Monday. In a statement, Dodd called Corker “a strong partner” and noted his forthcoming proposal “will reflect his input and the good work done by many of our colleagues as well.”