Here’s where we’re at on the Wall Street reform, with a vote on a motion to proceed expected Monday:
Republicans do not seem too interested in buckling. Richard Burr, one of their most threatened incumbents, said that his opponents would just find something else to criticize him over, so he has no problem voting to protect the banks. Bob Corker, who sounded confident about an imminent deal earlier in the week, changed his tune last night on CNN, complaining of “policy drift.” He told The Hill, “I hope they don’t test us on this, because they’re not going to get the votes.”
A Republican source said a bipartisan deal appeared less likely after Shelby gave colleagues an update on the talks Wednesday afternoon.
“Some people’s jaws dropped when they heard what Shelby had to say,” said the GOP source.
Shelby informed colleagues that Dodd has declined his requests to take enforcement power away from a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or to give prudential regulators oversight of the consumer-allied bureau.
This can be read as “Chris Dodd isn’t buckling to enough of our demands.” Because from where I sit, he’s being plenty solicitous of Republican and banking lobby interests, which do tend to coincide. His bill would not audit the Federal Reserve or allow for much of any transparency on their practices, for example.
“The Senate has a provision in its reform bill that purports to audit the Fed. But, it really doesn’t do anything of the sort. I’m going to run down the details for you, and reprint the legislative language so you can read it yourself,” writes Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.).
It would not allow the GAO to look into the Fed’s massive purchase of toxic assets, its hundreds of billions in foreign currency swaps with other central banks or its open market operations, among other restrictions.
Bernie Sanders plans to add Grayson’s language on auditing the Fed as an amendment to the bill.
On derivatives, while everyone cheered Blanche Lincoln’s bill coming out of the Ag Committee, even though it had some loopholes of its own in it, Dodd plans to undermine it when he puts it in his overall package, basically doing the bidding of the Republicans:
“After Dodd suggested that her measure may not be folded into his bill but would have to battle it out on the floor as a stand-alone amendment, Lincoln ‘threw a fit,’ one source said … Reid told Lincoln to work out her differences with Sen. Jack Reed … sources said Lincoln would prefer to work with Dodd on a chairman-to-chairman level … Fans of Lincoln’s bill came to her aid at Thursday’s regular Democratic Policy Committee lunch with harsh criticisms for Dodd and Reid … Both Lincoln and Dodd said they believe they will be able to come up with an agreement of some sort …”
And Dodd plans to tackle the issue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the “next wave” of legislation.
So Republicans want to gut the CFPA in addition to derivatives and anything else that hurts the banks, and Dodd drew the line there, so he’s being “impractical.” OK, they can block even considering the bill on the floor, then. Good luck explaining that to voters.
Dodd did acknowledge that, even if he and Richard Shelby reached agreement on something, that would not be the end of the process and the final bill would be subject to change. And he appears to have tweaked the bill in a positive direction as well:
The Democratic lawmaker taking the lead in crafting the Senate’s financial regulatory reform bill has agreed to a key change that would limit taxpayers’ exposure if the government must step in to wind down a large, failing financial institution, a key House Democrat said Thursday.
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, who sits on the House Financial Services Committee, told CNN that Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has agreed to change a provision in the Senate bill to limit the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to borrowing no more than 90 percent of the value of the assets of a failing firm.
“The senator has agreed to changes that would prevent borrowing by the FDIC that could have been enormous,” Sherman said on CNN’s John King, USA.
With the change, explained Sherman, “when [the FDIC] takes over a defunct entity, they’ll only be able to borrow 90 percent of the value of the assets they’ve taken over so that they have the liquidity to wind that entity up.”
So we have positives on some fronts, negatives on others, and the Republicans still acting like spoiled children. Business as usual.