Banking Committee to Bypass Markup of Financial Overhaul

Posted March 22, 2010 at 11:54am

Updated: 1:20 p.m.

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee is expected to bypass a lengthy markup and vote out a sweeping financial regulatory reform bill Monday evening, a surprising move that some believe suggests a bipartisan agreement on the issue could be looming.

“There’ll be no markup. There will be some opening statements. The bill will pass out,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Monday during an interview on CNBC.

Explaining the development, Corker said: “I think it’s probably true that we have a better opportunity with a different cast of characters — the full Senate — to do something that is sound policy-wise.”

While Republicans were expected to offer hundreds of amendments to Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) regulatory reform bill, ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) opted instead to continue negotiations as the bill moves to the floor. Dodd has worked for months to broker a deal with Shelby, and to a lesser extent, with Corker. While Dodd has so far been unable to strike an agreement with either Republican, Democrats are hopeful that a deal is still reachable between now and late April, when the bill could be on the floor.

“To prevent a drawn out, unproductive process that will not significantly improve the bill at this point, Republicans have determined that the best approach is to offer no amendments and oppose the bill at the markup,” a GOP source familiar with the negotiations explained, adding, “Republicans stand ready to work with Chairman Dodd to see whether an agreement can be reached prior to floor action on the legislation.”

Over the weekend, as Washington was consumed with the health care debate in the House, President Barack Obama directed a brief spotlight on regulatory reform in his weekly address. Obama called on the Senate to adopt a measure this year and pledged to use “every tool at my disposal” to help in that endeavor.

“I urge those in the Senate who support these reforms to remain strong, to resist the pressure from those who would preserve the status quo, to stand up for their constituents and our country,” Obama said. “And I promise to use every tool at my disposal to see these reforms enacted: to ensure that the bill I sign into law reflects not the special interests of Wall Street, but the best interests of the American people.”