Notwithstanding a bit of internal dissent and confusion, Democrats want to pass a Wall Street reform bill sooner rather than later. They have a lot on their plate, they say, are pleased with the bill as it is, and it’s high time, in their view, to move on.
GOP leaders, by contrast, wouldn’t mind keeping the bill on the floor for another two weeks. They say they oppose most of the key sections of the bill as they’re currently written, yet just about every time they try to change them in any significant way, Democrats band together to block them.
That dynamic could set the parties on a collision course much like the one they found themselves on a few weeks ago, which resulted in brief but dramatic GOP efforts to block debate on the bill altogether.
“I hope Senator Reid doesn’t file cloture and sort of force a showdown,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters today. “If he does prematurely, my hope would be that we could defeat cloture and keep the bill open for amendments because we’ve got a lot of work to do and it needs a lot of improvements.”
Back in late April, Republicans filibustered financial reform for several days, before bowing to political pressure when Democrats put them on the spot with a series of tough votes. Three weeks later, both sides now acknowledge that a repeat could be in order.
“Their strategy will be laid bare and it will be tough to justify,” said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
There’s still broad agreement among party leaders that the bill will ultimately pass. But the dynamic will be somewhat different than it was in April. Back then, Republicans were at pains to explain why they were preventing debate on financial reform. If they go the same route now, they’ll be able to argue that they want debate to continue until they’re satisfied with the legislation. Either way, another impasse will either force Republicans to assent to a shorter timeline and a much more liberal bill than they want, or require Democrats to allow the GOP to slow walk the bill, and perhaps even tweak it once or twice.
Now, a couple of different factors could forestall filibuster. Though Reid wants to wrap things up, he’s getting some push back from several progressives, who, hoping to capitalize on anti-Wall Street fervor, want the Senate to consider several far-reaching amendments. Likewise, next week’s primaries are likely to push back a final vote for at least a few days.
The picture should become more clear in the next couple days. We’ll keep you posted.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.