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Durbin Says GOP Wants to ‘Mar’ Bill With Loopholes

Updated: 4:40 p.m.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) took the GOP to task Monday for pushing amendments to the financial reform bill that would “mar it up with lobbyist loopholes,” but predicted that ultimately some Republicans would vote to pass the Democrats’ bill.

Durbin said he also expects to get GOP votes for some Democratic amendments that would strengthen the legislation.

“I think when it comes to votes on the floor, you’re not going to see party-line votes on some of these reform amendments,” Durbin said. “There are going to be a number of efforts on the Democratic side to strengthen this bill, and I expect Republican votes on some of these amendments.”

Durbin also came out in support of Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s (D-Ark.) provision requiring banks to end the practice of derivatives trading, a controversial proposal opposed by the Obama administration. In a letter sent Friday, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairwoman Sheila Bair urged Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Lincoln to drop the language.

“I support Blanche Lincoln’s language, and I may disagree with Ms. Bair on that,” Durbin said.

The derivatives language presents perhaps the thorniest issue for Democrats, who are split over how to regulate that sector of the financial industry.

Durbin’s aggressive stance is an extension of the Democratic strategy on financial reform — daring Republicans to vote against the bill as they forge ahead on the measure.

Durbin said a GOP alternative to the legislation, which has not been formally introduced, would water down oversight of the financial industry and codify the “alphabet soup” of federal agencies that oversee bank regulations.

Republicans are expected to push their alternative as an amendment, along with numerous other amendments, during floor debate expected to last at least two weeks.

“If they couldn’t stop this bill with a filibuster, they want to mar it up with lobbyist loopholes,” Durbin said on a conference call with reporters.

Durbin said the number of amendments that will be considered remains uncertain. The chamber is expected to vote Tuesday on the first amendment, a proposal to end taxpayer bailouts authored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).