From FIREDOGLAKE (April 28, 2010 12:47 P.M.):
In a bit of political theater, Senate Democrats plan to hold Republicans hostage on the floor and continually reject moving to debate on the Wall Street reform bill as a means to highlight the obstructionism and hopefully break the impasse.
A senior leadership aide described this stunt as similar to what they did when Jim Bunning would not give consent on the unemployment insurance extension. The press was very negative toward Bunning and the Republicans, and eventually they caved. Democrats are hopeful that they can force the hand of those who have wavered on the FinReg bill – George Voinovich, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and others – and “seal the deal” on moving to a floor debate on it. It is likely that Democrats would need more than one Republican to get 60 votes, as Ben Nelson “doesn’t seem like he’s budging,” the aide said.
Even Republicans have acknowledged that they will eventually allow the bill to go forward, so the real question is what happens at that time. Jeff Merkley and other Senators have recommended an open debate process with a majority vote on all amendments. The aide wasn’t totally sure about how things would proceed, but she did believe that an open amendment process could be a part of any deal with Republicans. The GOP has claimed that they would get blocked from allowing amendments on the floor, so opening up the process would have the effect of calling their bluff.
Washington (CNN) — Republicans ended their filibuster of Wall Street reforms Wednesday when the Senate agreed without a vote to begin debate on a financial regulations bill.
The Senate approved by unanimous consent a motion to launch debate on the bill after a similar proposal failed three times in the previous 48 hours to win the necessary 60 votes to pass.
President Obama and Democratic leaders hailed the Republican shift as necessary progress toward reforms that will prevent another Wall Street meltdown like the one in 2008 that harmed the U.S. economy.
With signs that support for the filibuster was crumbling, Republican leaders signaled Wednesday they would allow the debate to begin. Shortly after that, moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine became the first Republican to announce that she would vote to launch debate on the bill to overhaul the financial regulatory system.
Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, released a statement saying closed-door negotiations with Democrats on the financial regulations reform bill had ended with agreement on some issues but others left unresolved.
In a separate statement, the lead Republican negotiator on the issue, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, said that agreement had been reached on some issues but that the talks were at an impasse on others.
Shelby’s statement said he personally opposed opening floor debate on the bill but he would defer to the judgment of his Republican colleagues on whether to continue the filibuster.
The statements by Shelby and McConnell came several hours after the third failure by Senate Democrats to pass a motion to launch debate.
After that vote, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said Democrats were prepared to remain in session through the night Wednesday in their effort to break the impasse.
In holding the unsuccessful votes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on opening debate, Senate Democrats sought to generate public pressure on the Republicans by raising awareness of their opposition to moving forward on the popular issue.
One moderate Republican, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, indicated Tuesday that he would switch his vote from “no” to “yes” if negotiations on the bill between [Chris] Dodd [D-Connecticut] and Shelby failed to reach agreement. According to Voinovich, “a whole bunch” of other Republicans were likely to make the same decision.
Dodd and Shelby had repeatedly said they were close to a deal, with agreement on most of the issues. However, Shelby’s statement Wednesday said their disagreement on a new consumer protection agency in the bill and other issues proved insurmountable.
McConnell contended Tuesday that the consumer body would extend far beyond Wall Street to infiltrate daily transactions of all Americans.