Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Daily Strike-5/18/10-Financial Reform Endgame

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. It's Election Night tonight in several states, and there are some very important races out there. We'll be covering the races tomorrow night, and in real-time on Twitter. I need to get everything done before the Sharks play at 10pm.

FINANCIAL REGULATIONS: A lot to report today on the Wall Street reform bill as we countdown to a cloture vote either tomorrow or Thursday. Democrats removed a key barrier to passage today by coming up with an agreement to basically prohibit State Attorney Generals from enacting regulations stronger than those done at the federal level. The agreement was negotiated by moderate Democrat Tom Carper (D-DE). This is a big disappointment, as states could have been the laboratories for aggressive crackdowns on the worst financial practices. The Carper amendment passed by a vote of 80-18. "No" votes all came from Democrats. A GOP alternative to the Carper amendment failed by 43-55.

The only other amendment considered on the floor today was from Senator Gregg (R-NH) and it would have prohibited more bailouts to "irresponsible state governments." Give me a break. If Gregg weren't a pea-brain, he'd realize that most states aren't "irresponsible" but rather are lacking in tax revenue because of the Republican recession. As a result, millions of teachers and firefighters (not exactly faceless bureaucrats) have been laid off. Thankfully, the Gregg amendment failed by a vote of 47-50 (60 votes were needed). It's too bad that the following Democrats voted for this piece of you know what: Baucus (MT), Bayh (IN), Feingold (WI), McCaskill (MO), Shaheen (NH) and Tester (MT).

Republicans seem to believe that they no longer have the votes to block the bill. Instead, their new strategy is to defeat Democratic attempts to make the bill stronger. Republicans have objected requests to consider some very progressive amendments. Senators Levin (MI) and Merkley (OR) have offered an amendment to enact the so-called Volcker rule. Senator Dorgan (ND) has offered an amendment to ban naked credit default swaps, and was able to get a vote for it only after some procedural wrangling (ask me about it if you're interested!). The sponsors of these amendments have hinted that they may not support cloture unless their amendments receive votes. I don't take these threats too seriously, but it's one obstacle Majority Leader Reid (NV) must jump through before he can get final passage.

In other news, President Obama was in Youngstown, OH to tout recent economic progress, and the House spent the day on suspension bills. We'll see you tomorrow with Financial Regulation and Election updates!

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