Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday he hopes to bring a financial regulatory reform bill to the floor as soon as next week.
“We’re doing our best to move it to the floor as quickly as possible. We’re hoping next week,” Reid told reporters at a press conference.
Noting the lengthy bipartisan negotiations between Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Reid said it was “time to stop talking” about the issue. “I think it’s time to bring it to the floor and let Senators debate it,” he said.
Dodd and Shelby met to continue their discussions on the measure Wednesday night. Shelby described it as “one of the most productive meetings we’ve had in months.” Several outstanding issues remain between Dodd and Shelby, including how best to structure a consumer protection agency and how best to regulate certain smaller trading markets. Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) is expected to hold a markup in her panel on legislation addressing the latter issue, which could be melded with Dodd’s bill as part of a larger package.
Republicans have blasted Dodd’s bill for protecting financial institutions that are “too big to fail” and for creating a taxpayer-funded account that would bail out institutions considered dangerous to the market. At the press conference Thursday, Democratic leaders tried to counter those charges and argued that Dodd’s measure holds predatory banks accountable and would not use taxpayer money for any bailout purposes.
Further, Democrats charged that regulatory reform must be passed swiftly to avert the kind of financial meltdown that rocked Wall Street in 2008 and contributed to the recession.
“One thing is for certain. If we don’t reform financial services, the same recession we’ve been going through will happen again and again and again,” Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.).
With financial reform now slated to hit the floor next week, other priorities such as President Barack Obama’s nominations and a food safety measure will have to wait. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a sponsor of the food safety legislation, said he expects that bill to come up shortly after the financial reform bill.
Durbin also said he’s not certain of the vote count on financial reform and is unsure whether all 59 Democrats will stand behind it. Republicans are largely united against the measure, although key moderates such as Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Bob Corker (Tenn.) have left the door open to supporting it.