On Monday evening, the Senate failed to reach the 60-vote cloture threshold on a financial reform bill pushed by the Democrats. Sen. Ben Nelson joined 39 Republicans in voting no, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voting no at the last moment to protect his ability to reintroduce the legislation later.
Republican Sen. Richard Shelby continues to negotiate with Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd on language of a bill that would be palatable to both sides. Some of Shelby’s aides also indicated that Republicans may simply introduce their own financial reform package if an agreement cannot be hammered out. But it’s likely that some form of bipartisan arrangement will be reached as several Republicans will no doubt cross the aisle and join the Democrats in passing something.
It will be easy to use this to cast Republicans as protectors of the evil wizards of Wall Street. But I would urge caution on the part of those who would make that baseless accusation, especially if they are supporters of a President who took large campaign contributions from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms. The truth is that Republicans aren’t looking to kill this – they’re pushing for less leeway on bank bailouts and are pushing for greater scrutiny of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Those are both good ideas, and it doesn’t suggest at all that the GOP or the right is interested in looking out for the interests of big investment firms.
After all the reckless behavior that led up to the financial collapse of 2008, it’s no surprise that some sort of financial reform package will get passed, as it most definitely should. But I would caution throwing around the “obstructionist” word too cavalierly, especially if you truly are interested in bipartisanship. Republicans will come to some sort of agreement with the Democrats on this, but they will have less incentive to do so if they’re demonized for not simply going along with the will of the Democrats the first time around.