Financial Reform Bill Stalls In Senate

With a 57-41 vote, Senate Republicans blocked debate over the White House-supported financial reform bill. The Democrats needed a 60-vote “supermajority” to avoid a Republican filibuster threat. Democrats plan to reintroduce the bill as early as tomorrow.

Senate Democrats believe that anger over financial scandals can turn the tide in their favor, while Republicans see opportunities to force changes to the bill. As put by The New York Times:

Republicans said they were intent on winning substantive changes to the bill and accused the Democrats of rushing the most far-reaching overhaul of the financial regulatory system since the Great Depression. Both sides say they expect the overhaul eventually will be approved.

Democrats charged that Republicans were leaving the country at risk of another financial calamity and siding with wealthy corporate interests. The chief executive of one such firm, Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street powerhouse accused of fraud by federal regulators, is to testify Tuesday before a Senate committee.

Sensing political momentum at a time of deep public anger at Wall Street, Democratic leaders said they would keep the regulatory bill on the floor — and delay the rest of their busy legislative agenda — to ratchet up the pressure on the Republicans.

Republicans argued that the bill leaves open the possibility of new multi-billion-dollar bailouts, and overregulates the financial sector. “We shouldn’t put in place a regulatory regime that overly reacts and, as a result, significantly dampens our capacity to have the most vibrant capital and credit markets in the world,” said Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.

Democrats, however, warned that the nation remains vulnerable to another financial collapse. “We are as vulnerable as we are today in the waning days of April 2010 as we were in the fall of 2008,” said Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. “Nothing has changed, except, of course, jobs have been lost, homes have gone into foreclosure, retirement incomes have evaporated, housing values have declined.”

Republican Senators Block Finance Reform Bill [NYTimes.com]