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5 Important Developments on Wall Street Reform

This post originally appeared on Open Left. Here is where financial reform stands right now:
  • No vote this week There had been talk of bringing the financial reform bill up for a cloture vote on the motion to proceed this week.  For example, Chris Dodd indicatedthat such a vote would happen on Wednesday or Thursday.  However, as of this afternoon, cloture has not been filed yet.  Further, talking with a source on Capitol Hill, it is not expected that cloture will be filed until after President Obama's Thursday speech and rally on financial reform.  Since there has to be at least two calendar days between filing for cloture and the actual vote, and since a weekend session is unlikely, this means the first big vote on financial reform will not happen until next week.
  • Senate Dems haven't dropped liquidation fund yet . Even though they were undercut by the White House's offer to summarily drop the liquidation fund, in ongoing talks with Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats are refusing to drop the provision unless it actually nets votes:
    Senate Democratic leaders plan to stand behind the $50 billion fund maligned by Republicans as perpetuating Wall Street bailouts, agreeing at a leadership meeting Monday that they wouldn't give it up without gaining GOP votes in return, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the discussions.
    The White House's offer to drop the fund was not helpful.  It gave credibility to the Republican argument that the bill contained more bailouts (it doesn't), and also gave Republicans every reason to believe they could jerk Democrats around as they pleased on the bill.  Even though Senate Democrats are vowing to stand by the measure unless it gets votes, the White House's offer may have permanently damaged that stance beyond repair.
  • Democrats talking with Republican leaders, but actually only targeting three Republicans.  Banking chair Chris Dodd is still negotiating with the ranking Republican on the Banking committee, Richard Shelby:
    Talks on financial regulatory reform between Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd and ranking member Richard Shelby have intensified, Senate leaders indicated today. Both sides are pressing for a deal even as they brace for a showdown cloture vote on a motion to proceed to the bill.
    However, the real negotiations are happening with the three actual Democratic targets: Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Bob Corker.  Collins has said she is currently opposed.  Snowe is making her usual noises about being open, but there are good reasons to be skeptical.  Corker says the bill isn't strong enough yet (a likely story), but is also criticizing his own party.
  • Corporate executives descend on Capitol hill to argue against the bill.  Executives from big corporations are lobbying hard against the bill today:
    Some two dozen executives from large corporations will be descending on Capitol Hill today to make the case against over-regulating derivatives. The "fly-in" is being organized in part by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce through a group called the Coalition for Derivatives End-Users, according to the Chamber's Ryan McKee.
    And the banks are whipping their employees into action.  From an internal email of the American Bankers Association:
    ABA tomorrow will launch a 48-hour call-alert, asking bank employees to call their senator to express opposition to the Senate's current regulatory reform bill. The phone calls, which will begin at 9 a.m. EDT and continue through Wednesday, are needed in order to have maximum impact on the Senate's debate, which is expected to begin this week. ABA will provide contact information and talking points to assist employees in their calls. Please watch tomorrow's ABA Daily Newsbytes for more information.
    While corporate opposition to a piece of legislation does not necessarily mean that said legislation strikes a clean blow against the corporate capture of the country, it does mean that the bill is not just a pure corporate giveaway.
  • Financial reform sells better when "Wall Street" is mentioned.  Gallup has found that support for financial reform rises from a net +3, to a net +14, when the phrase "Wall Street" is included in the question.  As such, its no wonder the Democratic leadership in the White House and Congress has started called the bill "Wall Street reform" instead of the more abstract "financial reform."
More developments as they come in.  Even though there is no vote this week, it is still expected that the bill will pass the full Senate, and head to a conference committee, by mid-May.
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