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Wall Street Reform Moves Forward -- Here's What's Going On

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This post originally appeared on Open Left.

Concurrent with today's primary action, Wall Street reform continues to move forward in the Senate. Here is the state of play:

Cloture filed, vote tomorrow
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed for cloture on the Wall Street reform bill. The vote will take place tomorrow.

If cloture does succeed, amendments and debate will continue for 30 hours
Even if cloture succeeds tomorrow, the final vote will take place on Thursday evening or Friday morning. Also, the debate and amendment process will continue. There will still be 30 hours of debate and amendments, possibly during an all-night session. The only difference is that the amendments must be ruled to be germane, which might cause problems for amendments such as the ones related to the oil spill, secret holds, and health insurance industry anti-trust exemption.

If cloture does not succeed, there will be a vote a day on it until it does succeed
If Republicans block the bill and cloture is not invoked, then Senate Democrats will employ the same tactics they successfully used to get the bill on the Senate floor: hold a vote on the bill every day, generating negative media coverage for Republicans, until they let it pass.

Corker expects "four or five" Republicans to support
FWIW, Tennessee Republican Bob Corker expects cloture to succeed, with four or five Republican votes:

At least four or five Republicans will break ranks with the GOP to support Democrats' Wall Street reform bill, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday.
Corker, a key negotiator on the bill to overhaul U.S. financial regulations, said he would not be among those Republicans to support the overall legislation, which has been the subject of debate and amendments in the Senate this month.

"I think that we know that there are probably at least five Republicans who are going to vote for this bill," Corker said during an appearance on CNBC. "I think we've seen that in the voting patterns."

No matter what happens on cloture, amendments continuing today
Some amendment highlights today:

  1. The Senate will take up the Carper weakening amendment starting at 2:15 pm, eastern. This amendment strips the authority of state Attorneys General to enforce state laws against large financial instutions, and has some Demcoratic support. Zach Carter explains:

    Over the past decade, state regulators tried to crack down on subprime outrages, but federal regulators stepped in to protect the megabanks. If we want to establish a fair financial system, we have to empower states to take action against abusive banks.
    That's what makes a new amendment from Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., so dangerous. Carper's plan is to ban states from enforcing their own laws against big national banks like Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Bank of America. This is an overt attempt to take cops off the beat and allow banks to get away with outright abuses. While doing lipservice to "strong consumer protection," Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., John Ensign, R-Nev., D-Mark Warner, D-Va., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., have all gone to bat for America's largest banks.

    This is the kind of amendment that can actually sink the bill if adopted. For years, federal bank regulators at the Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) asserted broad powers to preempt state laws, and courts generally backed them. But in 2009, the Supreme Court reversed those decisions, giving states the ability to go after big banks through the court system. Carper's amendment wouldn't just institutionalize a destructive status quo-it would actively deregulate, further empowering banks to take advantage of the public.

    This is a very dangerous amendment. Read Zach's whole piece for more.

  2. Cantwell joins Dorgan in threatening filibuster if her amendment does not receive a vote : Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who is looking to reinstate Glass-Steagall, has joined Byron Dorgan (D-ND) in threatening a filibuster if her amendment does not receive a vote:

    "Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) has said he will filibuster the bill unless the Senate votes on his amendment banning a speculative financial instrument known as a "naked" credit default swap. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has done the same, saying she needs a vote on her amendment separating commercial and investment banking operations. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said any Democratic defections are a cause for concern."

    Progressives are winning a lot of these strengthening amendments, so it would suck it Cantwell and Dorgan are not given their votes.

  3. Volcker rule whip count . Another key strengthening amendment is the Merkley Levin amendment to reinstate the Volcker rule. As a sign of of important this amendment is, opponents may make it face a 60-vote threshold, instead of the 50-vote threshold all but two amendments have faced thus far. Here is a whip count I have seen on the bill:
    • Democratic No (2): Hagan, WarnerWith two Democratic defections, three Republicans to reach the 60 vote threshold. One Republican defection has already been secured:
    • Republican Yes (1): LugarWhich means two of the following six potential votes are needed:
    • Republican Lean Yes (1): Brown Republican Undecided (5): Collins, Snowe, Voinovich, Grassley, McCainAnd, even if we make up enough votes from the Republicans listed above, we have to hold these Democrats, especially the first two:
    • Democratic Leaning No (2): Klobuchar, Ben Nelson Democratic Undecided (5): Lieberman, Gillibrand, Schumer, Carper, Byrd  Democratic Leaning yes (1): Byah

    The keys are the six potential Republican votes undecided and the two Democrats leaning no. Four of eight Senators will be needed for passage. Even then, the vote would need to be held on a day when all Democrats are available for votes, and all Democratic undecideds would need to be secured. So, hopefully the vote will come on either Wednesday or Thursday, rather than today. Otherwise, it will be difficult to reach 60 votes on this one.

Debate and voting restarts at 2:15 pm. Watch it live on CSPAN2.

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