Democrats Increase Pressure on GOP Over Regulatory Reform

Posted April 20, 2010 at 10:02am

Updated: 12:50 p.m.

Senate Democrats turned up the heat on financial regulatory reform Tuesday by tying Republicans directly to Wall Street and calling on the minority to allow sweeping legislation to come to the floor this week.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) noted, “With so much bipartisan progress on the substance of the legislation, it seems clear that we could quickly pass a bipartisan bill if both sides were working in good faith.”

“Unfortunately, the Senate Republican leadership seems more interested in mischaracterizing the legislation and protecting Wall Street,” the letter charged.

The Democratic letter responded to an earlier note from McConnell, who in recent days has pleaded for more time to work on the bill in order to strike a bipartisan agreement. Republican Members lined up Monday to echo that request, but the will among moderates to block a sweeping reform bill from coming to the floor remained unclear as momentum continues to build around the issue that both sides are eager to use on the campaign trail.

Senate Democrats and the White House in recent days have increasingly focused their attacks against the GOP over regulatory reform on McConnell, portraying him as the Republicans’ point man in the party’s effort to protect Wall Street.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley continued piling on criticism of McConnell on Tuesday, charging the Minority Leader with falsely asserting the measure preserves taxpayer-funded bailouts.

“It is our hope that the Republican Leader will retract his earlier remarks and stop repeating such falsehoods,” Manley said, also calling on McConnell to release details of recent meetings he and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) had with Wall Street executives to “scheme about killing reform.”

“With 1,500 Wall Street lobbyists trying to water down our bipartisan efforts to hold Wall Street accountable, it is past time for Senator McConnell to come clean regarding the nature of his closed-door meetings with Wall Street executives,” Manley demanded.

One by one, Republicans took to the floor Tuesday to continue blasting Democrats for pushing what they called a partisan bill that would protect predatory banks and put taxpayers on the hook to bail out weak institutions. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said the bill would create an “all-powerful super bureaucracy.”

The Democratic National Committee released a fresh television ad Tuesday charging that “Republicans stood by while Wall Street ran wild.”

“Now Republicans are working with Wall Street lobbyists to block reform — reforms that would protect consumers and prevent a future bailout,” the ad states. “Tell Republicans it’s time to reform Wall Street.”

President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at Cooper Union in New York on Thursday to call for Senate passage of financial regulatory reform. Reid has pledged to bring up the bill as soon as this week.