As two of their colleagues battle for their political careers, Senate Democrats tonight are pushing forward on financial reform in hopes of finishing up a bill this month. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is going to file for cloture tonight, setting up the final stages of the process to begin after a vote on Wednesday.
But Reid is still facing the threat of a filibuster from retiring Sen. Byron Dorgan, who hasn’t tipped his hand yet today on whether the Democrats have convinced him to vote for moving ahead with the bill. An aide told me that Dorgan (D-ND) expects to get a vote on his amendment dealing with credit default swaps but would not say if anything has changed since he told leadership he would block the bill from a final vote last week.
Reid (D-NV) said on the Senate floor this afternoon he’s aiming for a final vote by the end of the week, perhaps as early as Thursday. “This cannot be delayed any longer,” Reid warned Republicans, who are aiming to prolong every floor battle in hopes of gaining traction during this fall’s midterm elections.
The majority leader — fighting for his own reelection back home — said the Senate has made the bill “tougher” in the last few weeks during the amendment process. Several more amendments will be considered this evening, though Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) are unlikely to be here for the vote while they are campaigning back home in advance of tomorrow’s primary elections.
Reid said the Senate must “finish sooner, rather than later” because there is a lot left on the agenda — including a new jobs bill and spending measures funding natural disasters and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He reminded colleagues that amendments can continue once the bill is finally on the floor.
Late Update: I asked Sen. Dick Durbin about the Dorgan threat during a briefing today. He said “You bet” the Democrats are worried about it. Read the piece here.
Additional reporting by Nick Broten