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Dodd Dismisses GOP Charges on Timing of Financial Reform Bill

Updated: 3:52 p.m.

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Thursday dismissed GOP charges that health care reform forced him to push ahead on financial regulatory reform without a bipartisan deal.

“The moment has arrived, putting aside reconciliation and everything else, to put down a proposal,” Dodd told reporters at a news conference.

Dodd rebutted claims made earlier in the day by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the lead Republican negotiator on regulatory reform, that he faced pressure from the White House and top Democrats to move fast on the measure. Rather, Dodd said months of negotiations had reached a saturation point and that the looming midterm elections and waning days on the Senate calendar led to his decision to unveil a proposal next week.

“Each week we let it slip a little bit because we thought we could get farther along,” Dodd said of his ongoing talks with Corker. “But we’re facing what I call the 101st Senator, and that’s what I call the clock.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the Banking Committee, said in a statement Thursday: “Republicans remain open to finding common ground with Chairman Dodd. As long as we remain focused on policy and not politics, an agreement is still very possible. The Republican members of the Committee stand united and ready to work with Chairman Dodd toward that goal.”

Dodd plans to unveil his proposal Monday, with a markup scheduled for the week of March 22. He said he hopes the bill can emerge from committee before Congress adjourns March 26 for a two-week Easter recess, despite Corker’s warnings that such a timeline was too quick.

“I’m more interested in getting this right than getting it by a certain date,” Dodd said, while underscoring the limited time frame he has to move the bill. “The real problem I’m facing is that clock.”

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