It looks like the recently-watered-down version of the Wall Street reform bill now stands a good chance of passing in the Senate, when it reconvenes next week after the July 4th recess.
The bill was watered down last week at the behest of Republicans Scott Brown, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, who simply couldn’t abide the thought of banks being asked to shoulder the costs of cleaning up after them if they once again took wild risks and suffered humongous losses and had to be liquidated.
But the success of this watering down strategy seemed to be predicated on the assumption that Maria Cantwell could be brought around to oppose the Republican filibuster, even if she didn’t vote for the bill itself.
Just before the holiday weekend, Sen. Cantwell announced that she is now prepared to support the bill:
Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell has long taken the Obama administration to task for not being tough enough on Wall Street following the financial meltdown in 2008 and the ongoing economic downturn.
Now, Cantwell says she will support the final version of financial regulation legislation, largely because of tough new rules on derivatives trading added during conference negotiations. She opposed the original Senate bill.
Cantwell has said she believes the unregulated trading of the complex securities called derivatives was a central driver of the economic bubble that burst nearly two years ago.
“This legislation is not perfect, and I will continue to push for even bolder action – including a return to the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking – to reign (sic) in Wall Street, put an end to the concept of ‘too-big-to-fail.’ But this bill makes significant strides toward preventing the kind of financial meltdown that we saw in the fall of 2008,” she said in a statement.
In her statement, Cantwell said the final bill contained significant improvements over the original Senate bill in its language requiring transparency in derivatives markets and tough penalties for evading the clearing and exchange trading requirements for derivatives.
Then, on Sunday Scott Brown offered coy hints that he too may be moving into non-obstruction mode:
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) offered a hint that he may support the financial reform bill when it comes to a final vote later this month.
“I’m going to be making a decision soon, but I’m liking what I see,” Brown told WHDH television station in Plymouth, Mass., on Sunday.
Brown said he would review the final conference report over the weeklong recess.
With Robert Byrd‘s replacement expected to be announced (and sworn in) soon, Democrats should have 58 votes against the filibuster. Unless Scott Brown does another half-twist-with-somersault over the next week, either Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe will be enough to put the anti-filibuster forces over the 60-vote threshold.
And at this point, nobody really seems to think that both these ladies will support the filibuster.