ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports: Hope for a last-minute deal faded Monday as Democrats tried to bring up their Wall Street reform bill. Republican leaders were confident they could filibuster the measure and send Democrats back to the negotiating table.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Republicans should consider “whether party unity is more important than economic security,” and vote to consider the bill.
But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to turn the debate from how to reform Wall Street to whether Democrats could be trusted. He criticized the long list of sweeping legislation Democrats have enacted with little Republican support since President Obama took office.
“Pick the issue,” said McConnell. “Whether it’s the Stimulus, the debt, health care, bailouts — you name it — the concerns Republicans raised are being validated. And Democrats have the nerve, in this debate, to say that we’re the ones who are being dishonest.”
“The Democrats tell us they want us to trust us on this one. With all due respect, Americans aren't in a trusting mood,” he argued.
Public opinion favors new regulation to reign in Wall Street: Bipartisan negotiations have proceeded in fits and starts for more than a year. Those bipartisan talks led to Democrats’ current bill as presented by Sen. Chris Dodd, who chairs the Banking Committee.
A separate piece of the reform bill is still being hashed out by Democrats, but is likely to greatly resemble tough restrictions on the shadowy derivatives market as proposed by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas. It was overleveraging in the shadowy derivatives market that brought insurance giant AIG down in 2008.
Talks between Republicans and Democrats have stalled, however, and consensus has not been reached. President Obama has said he wants a final bill by Memorial Day. Dodd and Banking Committee Ranking Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama continue to meet on the issue, although any agreement would come after Republicans filibuster the current Democratic bill.
Republican Senators are now preparing their own proposal, which could be unveiled this week if they are able to filibuster Democrats’ bill.
While the bipartisan talks have continued in recent weeks, Senate leaders have sparred over the legislation in public. McConnell has said it will lead to an institutionalized bailout system for Wall Street firms. Reid stopped just short of calling McConnell a liar during a press conference last week, saying instead that its clear what the Republican said was not true.
That charge appears to go too far and Reid stopped just short of apologizing on the Senate floor today.
“In no way was impugning the integrity of my friend from Kentucky,” Reid said.