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Democrats Warned to Play Nice on Financial Reform

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday accused the White House and Senate Democrats of attempting to jam through a partisan financial regulatory reform bill and pledged “overwhelming” Republican opposition should the administration and Senate majority decline to negotiate.

McConnell stopped short of promising a Republican filibuster. But he appeared confident that there was enough GOP opposition to stand in the way of a package receiving final approval. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, joined McConnell at an afternoon news conference and echoed the complaint that Democrats and the White House seem disinterested in reaching a deal.

“All signs we get from the White House are that they’re not interested in talking; they’re not interested in making a deal with us; they want to jam through a totally partisan bill,” McConnell said. “I had thought, I gather somewhat naively, that this was going to forward on a relatively bipartisan basis.”

“We can get a good bill if they will meet us half way,” Shelby said. “They haven’t yet; I hope they will. We continue to be open. But we’re not open to a bad bill.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) responded sharply, contending that Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) has tried for more than a year to reach an agreement with the Republicans but that the GOP is committed to opposing everything the Democrats bring to the floor. Reid said the Republicans’ opposition is unprecedented in the history of the Senate.

The financial regulatory reform bill was written by Dodd and reported out of his committee, without amendments, on a party-line vote. Reid said Republicans would have an opportunity to amend the bill on the floor. Meanwhile, talks between Dodd and Shelby are ongoing, although neither appear optimistic that they will prove fruitful.

“Sen. Dodd reached out to the Republicans on that committee and Senators not on that committee. ‘Work with me,’ he said. We want to have a bipartisan bill. He worked with them days, weeks and months, and finally, we have to move forward on this; we couldn’t get anything done,” Reid said. “This is a good piece of legislation Sen. Dodd has reported out of this committee.”

“Wall Street took advantage of America,” Reid added. “It’s now our turn to look at Wall Street and have them contribute to a better America.”

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