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Senate Democrats Move to Wrap Up Financial Reform Debate

The Senate is poised to wind down consideration of the financial regulatory reform bill with a vote to end debate expected by midweek.

“That’s what’s likely to happen,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said after a special caucus meeting to discuss strategy on regulatory reform.

Members have worked through a host of amendments to the sweeping overhaul in recent days, but scores remain.

“That’s the issue. You’ve got a lot of amendments and a short period of time,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said after the closed-door session.

The regulatory reform bill hit the floor on April 28, but the first amendment vote didn’t occur until a week later, on May 5. Dozens of proposals from both parties remain, and Members are eager to get their day on the floor on the politically popular issue of financial services reform.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said some Democrats were in disagreement with Reid over when to end debate, saying wryly, “there’s a difference between those who have had their amendments considered and those who haven’t, interestingly enough.”

Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) predicted Thursday that “we’re going to be on this until early next week.”

Democrats want to move on several other priorities before adjourning for the one-week Memorial Day recess, including extending unemployment benefits and a small-business loan program. The chamber will also have to consider the war supplemental.

“I think we’re in a very good position” to pass a bill by next week, Casey said.

One senior Senate Democratic aide said Reid is expected to file a motion to limit debate, or invoke cloture, on Monday, setting up a vote no later than Wednesday.

A procedural vote on Wednesday would accommodate the schedules of Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Arlen Specter (Pa.), who each have a primary on Tuesday. Both Members are facing strong opposition and will need to be back home campaigning.

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