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Reid wins cloture on FinReg. But at what cost?


The final vote was 60 to 40. Sen. Arlen Specter is back, which gave Democrats one more "aye" then they had yesterday, and Scott Brown flipped to support Harry Reid, joining fellow Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. That put the Democrats over the top. But not in the right way.

Brown's objection was that he wanted mutual funds, insurers, trusts and a couple other types of financial institutions that have powerful presences in Massachusetts exempted from many of the bill's provisions, particularly the Volcker rule. His vote today implied that assurances have been made. But the end policy here is not a particularly good one: It creates another place in the system where risks can migrate, and though the systemic regulator could step in if it sees things getting out of control, there's no assurance that it will step in. Meanwhile, Maria Cantwell was pushing for enforceable language on derivatives, and her concerns still haven't been met. So getting to the finish line here took the form of freeing financial institutions from regulations rather than making the bill stronger.

Meanwhile, I'm a bit curious as to where Cantwell's friends were on this one. There've been a bunch of Democrats who've argued that this bill needs to be stronger. Think Jeff Merkley, Carl Levin, Ted Kaufman, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders, just for starters. But they didn't back Cantwell and Russ Feingold in their demands for further improvements. Party discipline isn't dead, I guess.

Photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Next: CBO vs. cap-and-trade


What happens to Cantwell and Feingold's amendments now ... in the trash, never to be entertained again?

Posted by: onewing1 | May 20, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

hooray. another weak ineffective bill that will be outdated before the ink dries just like healthcare.

Glass-Steagal ANYONE? ANYONE??? Its nice for the Dems to parade around MSNBC like they're doing things FOR the people but when they pull this crap and don't get the bill right they're no better than the ones they're complaining about.

I'll bet Dylan Ratigan's about to have a field day with this.

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 20, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The real reform needed to be with Fannie and Freddie. This bill is another Frankenstein created by our government that created the problem they are now trying to fix. Instead of passing bills we should be sending some Senators and Congressional Representatives to jail. Start with Dodds and Frank.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | May 20, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse


Call your Congressman.

Call Senator Dodd at 202-224-2823

Email Senator Dodd at

Posted by: jeanryan1752 | May 20, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't the Democratic leadership just be waiting for the bill to go to conference for changes to be made? That way the Senate can stay on the schedule it wants, killing two birds with one stone.

Would there be enough votes in both the House and the Senate for an improved bill coming out of conference? Is it even realistically possible to improve the bill in conference? I guess the thinking would be why fight over it now when you're just going to have to fight some more later.

Is any of this even plausible, or am I confusing the situation?

Posted by: archamprog | May 20, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

@ visionbrkr : Don't whine about the Dems. It is the repiglicans that are preventing more debate on these issues by insisting on cloture votes for everything. They are the ones voting to prevent the good amendments from coming to the floor. If they would give unanimous consent to allow reinstatement of glass-stegeal as an amendment, the senate could vote on it and move on. Reid is just running out of time to pass the supplemental and other pressing bills because of republican obstruction.

Posted by: srw3 | May 20, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

@ jeanryan1752: NO, call McConnell and tell him to stop filibustering every single action in the senate. All of these good amendments would have come up for a vote if the republicans would give unanimous consent for it to happen.

Posted by: srw3 | May 20, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse


just as an FYI you actually typed the word republican and not repiglican once there. If only you could fix your typos!

can't i blame them both??? And actually its the Dems that control everything (if you didn't notice) so the Republicans have only so much power. All this egg belongs on Harry Reid and Chris Dodd. I'm sure the Maddow's and Olbermann's of the world will try to spin it as they like but the rest of us know the FULL truth.

If Harry was so FOR IT then why didn't he accept the amendment that was co sponsored by a REPUBLICAN. Sorry you can play partisan all you like but IMO you're wrong.

and as i said before don't do supplementals monthly if you're worried about time. do them quarterly or semiannually. Wouldn't that be in the Dems better interest in being called spendthrifts only twice per year as opposed to monthly.

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 20, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"he wanted mutual funds, insurers, trusts and a couple other types of financial institutions that have powerful presences in Massachusetts exempted from many of the bill's provisions,"

Who is left after you make all those exemptions. Every one of the big banks bought an insurance company so all they have to do is move their risky deal making to that part of the company.

I guess the Republican's finally succeeded in gutting reform. What little reform Dodd left in the bill has officially been made an exception...

Posted by: soapm | May 20, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

A few months ago, who would have predicted ANY kind of FinReg bill passing? This one actually got tougher over time on derivatives, etc.

Remember Pelosi's maxim -- "You get the votes, then you TAKE the vote!". FinReg has actually passed. With the frantic lobbying out there, do you really feel confident that the bill would have gotten stronger with the passage of time? How confident are you that it would have passed at all given a few more weeks?

Posted by: dlmzzz | May 20, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, I can think of two possible good reasons to push through FinReg in its current state, rather than continue with amendments. One possibility is that all the amendments you would want can be added in conference committee, if they're also part of the House bill (are they?). The other possibility is that, if the situation in Europe worsens, we may need some of this bill ASAP if it causes a financial crisis.

Posted by: KevHall | May 20, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

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