Updated: 5:08 p.m.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said a bipartisan deal on financial regulatory reform could be reached, but she urged Democrats not to bring the measure to the floor this week and to drop a controversial provision that Republicans have targeted as a bailout fund.
“I am very optimistic that given more time … we can put together a bipartisan bill that would take care of the too-big-to-fail phenomenon,” Collins said Monday after a closed-door meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Collins reiterated her intention to vote with the majority of Republicans in attempting to filibuster the bill this week because she said three to four weeks are needed to come up with a bipartisan bill that she could support.
The meeting revealed “a lot of common ground” on regulatory reform, she said. Collins, whom Democrats are courting as a key potential vote on the bill, told reporters that Geithner agreed the bank-funded $50 billion account to save suffering institutions should be dropped from the measure. Collins also said she discussed how best to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and whether to create a new consumer protection agency or to improve existing offices.
“My hope is the White House will now decide that it’s in everyone’s interest to take the time to come up with a good bill,” Collins said.
Earlier Monday, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) declared it was time to move ahead on financial reform, a top priority for Democrats that could deliver a legislative victory and compelling political message. While Democrats are eager to bring the bill to the floor this week, Republicans are seeking to slow the process down. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) went to the floor Monday to say he was “distressed” at the developments over regulatory reform, while Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested that the bill could be massaged to win GOP support.
“These problems are not insurmountable. This bill is not unfixable,” McConnell said in a floor statement.
Democrats were not convinced that more time would yield Republican support, and they are expected to say as much this week in floor statements and press conferences as part of a broader effort to build momentum behind the issue.
“It’s the same story and the same script over and over again,” Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Monday afternoon, adding that Republicans simply want to “stop and kill” the legislation.