Sen. Corker: 'We're Going to Have a Solid Bipartisan Effort' on Financial Reform

Even as Republicans blast the Dems' bill, some say bipartisanship is possible.

April 15, 2010, 7:30 AM

April 15, 2010— -- The debate over financial reform is already becoming as heated as the fight over health care, but some Republicans are still hopeful that a bipartisan agreement is possible.

"I will be stunned if we do not reach a bipartisan agreement," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said on "Good Morning America" today. "Unfortunately, the winds are blowing, health care has created momentum, there's lots of things happening here that don't aid that effort but at the end of the day, I think we're going to have a solid bipartisan bill."

Even as Corker's fellow Republicans attacked the bill as another bank bailout, Corker urged his colleagues to "tone down the rhetoric."

The legislation drafted mainly by Democrats gives the Treasury Department the power to force failing banks into bankruptcy. It establishes a $50 billion fund to pay for shutting down big banks, financed with fees imposed on the banks themselves rather than taxpayers. But Republicans say taxpayers would have to foot the bill for costs above $50 billion.

It creates a new consumer protection agency with the power to stop abusive practices by the financial industry, including sudden credit card interest rate hikes, hidden bank fees and predatory loans.

The bill regulates high-risk speculation on derivatives, which some say helped to cause the financial collapse in the first place.

Corker has been working with Democrats for weeks to craft a bipartisan compromise. He negotiated a key provision with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., dubbed as a bank bailout.

Corker today acknowledged there are some loopholes in the financial reform bill, but that they can be easily closed with a bipartisan agreement.

"The fact is though I do think we could solve those in about five minutes. What I've urged is let's tone down the rhetoric a little bit," Corker said on "GMA." "If we can come to a bipartisan template that has the major provisions worked out before it gets to the floor, my sense is we'll have a very civil debate. ... My sense is Republicans do want to see a regulatory bill of this type come to fruition."

"I really believe we could do that in a week's time," he added, "and have a good bill, I believe that."

Financial Reform Debate

Democrats say their financial reform legislation will prevent another bailout in the future and will reign in the big banks. Republicans argue the opposite.

"When you get the wrong diagnosis, you get the wrong remedy. And the Democrats have the wrong diagnosis. And that is more bailouts and more takeovers," Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said at a GOP press conference Wednesday. "This is a bailout Congress."

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., chimed in, calling it "a permanent bailout."

Democrats are blasting Republicans for distorting the financial reform bill.

"To castigate it and label it as nothing more than a partisan debate and suggest that somehow what we've done here is to perpetuate 'to big to fail' is just poppycock!" Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who took the lead in drafting the bill, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Democrats need at least one Republican vote to pass the financial reform bill in the Senate.

Despite the heated rhetoric, many Democrats and Republicans believe that a bipartisan agreement on financial reform is still possible.

President Obama met with Congressional leaders on Wednesday and urged them to implement reform.

"If there's one lesson that we've learned, it's that an unfettered market where people take huge risks and expect taxpayers to bail them out when things go sour is simply not acceptable," Obama said.

On Wall Street, there is an outcry over what these regulations would mean. The CEO of JP Morgan Chase, which posted a net income of $3.3 billion just for the first three months of this year, says the new regulations would cost his bank alone $2 billion.