GOP says it has the votes to block Dems' bank bill

Senate Republicans say they will likely have the votes to block the start of debate on a major financial reform bill, which would leave the legislation in limbo until a bipartisan deal can be achieved.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to hold a vote late Monday afternoon but so far appears to lack the 60 votes needed to achieve cloture and stop a Republican filibuster. Democrats control 59 votes and need to win the support of at least one GOP lawmaker.

“It's my expectation that we will not go forward with this partisan bill tomorrow,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The top negotiators on the bill, Senate banking committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and the committee's top Republican, Richard Shelby, R-Ala., met in an effort to put together a last-minute deal, but it was not expected to yield an agreement because the GOP says more time is needed.

“If nothing happens between today and tomorrow, Democrats will not get cloture,” Shelby said on “Meet the Press."

Republicans object to several major aspects of the bill, in particular the language pertaining to how the federal government handles meltdowns at big financial institutions. The current bill establishes a $50 billion fund for winding down failed banks. But Republicans want to eliminate the fund and rewrite the language to prohibit the federal government from bailing them out.

“We need to tighten that up and make sure it doesn't happen again,” Shelby said. “The message needs to be unambiguously that nothing is too big to fail.”

If Republicans block the bill, it is unclear when Democrats will attempt a second vote on the measure.

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., threatened last week to pull the plug on the bill if Republicans succeed at blocking it, but the two parties will continue to negotiate.

Dodd said on “Meet the Press” he thought if a deal could not be achieved by Monday, it could happen “in the next few days or the next week,” while Shelby said, “It may be next week. The main thing is to get a good bill.”

The bill as currently written would give the Federal Reserve more authority over big financial institutions and create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The bill would also establish a special council to warn of systemic risks taken by large institutions that could threaten the economy and perhaps cause a repeat of the financial market meltdown that occurred in 2008.

If Democrats can come up with the 60 votes to bring a bill to the floor, there will be many attempts to amend it.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he would offer an amendment that would require the management of liquidated financial firms to pay a penalty.

“I think that everything that the executive team and the board members have earned through this company over the last five years needs to be clawed back,” Corker said on ABC's “This Week.” “In other words, there needs to be some penalties assessed to the management that have caused the country to have to go through this orderly liquidation process.”

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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