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Senators to Begin Hammering Out Financial Reforms

Source: Washington Post

Posted on 22 Mar 2010

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Two years after Bear Stearns' collapse ushered in the worst financial crisis in decades, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee will begin hammering out new rules for the financial system today.

Republicans plan to introduce about 300 amendments to attempt to weaken or kill key provisions of a regulatory reform bill developed over months of negotiation by the committee's Democratic chairman, Senator Christopher Dodd.

Whether a bill emerges as Dodd hopes by Friday, when Congress is set to adjourn for two weeks, is uncertain.

Failure to produce a bill in the Senate could doom hopes for a broad rewrite of financial rules meant to ward off future crises like the one that punished the U.S. economy with its deepest recession since the Great Depression, dragging much of the global economy down with it.

Dodd has the votes to ram a Democratic bill through the committee. He may do that if he senses Republicans are not interested in legislating and want only to keep President Barack Obama and Democrats from achieving a top objective.

But some key Republicans on the committee maintain they want to reform financial regulation, and recognize Congress needs to act quickly since lawmakers will soon refocus on political campaigns ahead of the November elections.

The committee is slated to begin its bill-drafting session at 5 p.m. EDT on Monday. It could last all week.

If a bill emerges with no Republican support, Democrats would be hard-pressed to muster the 60 votes that will almost certainly be needed to move the legislation through the full Senate, where Republicans now routinely throw up procedural roadblocks. The Democrats control only 59 votes.