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Cloture filed on financial reform -- big first vote set for Monday

April 22, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] filed for cloture on the financial reform bill today, meaning that the Senate can move forward with a vote to begin debating on Monday. Under Senate rules, if there is an objection to a unanimous consent request to bring up a bill for floor debate, as is the case with the financial reform bill, at least 16 senators must sign and file a cloture petition on the motion to proceed to the bill. After 30 hours, the Senate can vote on whether or not to invoke cloture. The cloture vote is set for Monday, April 26 at 5:00 p.m. ET and will require a supermajority of 60 votes to pass.

As of right now, the Democrats don’t appear to have 60 votes to win the vote and start debate. All 41 Senate Republicans last week signed onto a letter from Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY] expressing their opposition to the bill and saying that it “allows for endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street.” That means the Democrats have to win over at least one Republican to succeed on Monday’s motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed.

In the past few days, there has been some evidence that the Republicans’ lock-step opposition is starting to soften and a GOP Aide is telling Greg Sargent that “there is a good chance” a deal will be struck this weekend, though differences remain over the CFPA. By filing cloture, Harry Reid is stepping up the pressure — the Republicans either need to strike a deal with the Democrats or be prepared to face the backlash of filibustering a popular financial regulatory reform bill on Monday. If they do manage to strike a deal with Democrats, it can be included in a manager’s amendment or a substitute amendment once the bill actually comes to the floor.

According to subscription-only Congress Daily, Reid has decided to have an open floor debate and allow for votes on amendments from both parties. But if a deal is struck with Republicans, I expect that the amendment process would be restricted to preserve the deal. Amendments like the Brown-Kaufman SAFE Banking Act that could really shake things up would likely not be allowed to come to the floor.

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