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Financial Reform Debate to Begin After GOP Relents

Senate Republicans abruptly dropped their opposition to debating financial regulatory reform legislation Wednesday night, agreeing to a unanimous consent request that followed three straight days of GOP procedural objections.

“After months of bipartisan meetings and negotiation, it’s time to move this debate from the sidelines to the playing field,” Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the floor.

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who for weeks has been negotiating with Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), said some of his top concerns with the legislation have been addressed but that a few sticking points remain. Regardless, Shelby suggested it was time to move forward.

Senators who previously voted against proceeding to the bill, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), applauded the bipartisan agreement and said they would support it.

The measure is expected to stay on the Senate floor for several weeks. Dodd promised an open amendment process to consider the bill, which he will manage on the floor and which will serve as the legislative capstone of his 30-year Senate career.

“We’ve got ideas we can consider, accept, maybe modify, to make it work,” Dodd said on the floor. “From that spirit, we can do a good job here and we can leave this chamber at the end of this Congress knowing that we confronted a serious problem.”

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