Sen. Scott Brown is no longer undecided. He says he’ll certainly vote against the Wall Street reform conference report unless it is changed to remove a fee on big banks added during final negotiations.
“I am writing you to express my strong opposition to the $19 billion bank tax that was included in the financial reform bill during the conference committee,” Brown wrote today in a letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank. “This tax was not in the Senate version of the bill, which I supported. If the final version of this bill contains these higher taxes, I will not support it.
Here’s the thing, though: They can’t change the conference report. It’s unamendable. To accommodate Brown, the House and Senate would have to reconvene the conference committee, which could easily imperil their plan to get the bill to President Obama by the end of the week, ahead of the July 4 recess.
Between Brown’s change of heart, Robert Byrd’s death, and Russ Feingold’s insistence that he’ll oppose the legislation, Democrats need to sweep the remaining swing votes—Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME)—to reach the filibuster-breaking threshold of 60. Last night, Collins told reporters she too is undecided because of the bank fee.
Brown’s change of heart comes after the White House and key Democratic legislators worked with him to include a significant loophole in one of the financial reform bill’s key provisions. You can read the letter in full here.
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.