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If the pre-funded "orderly liquidation fund" is dropped, the financial reform bill will increase the deficit, not reduce it. According to This morning's Congress Daily ($), Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd [D, CT] and Ranking Member Sen. Richard Shelby [R, AL] are close to an agreement on dropping the fund, which Republicans have been attacking as a "sluch fund" that "guarantees" future bailouts. In reality, the fund would be used to pay for liquidating (a.k.a. killing) failing mega-banks, not bailing them out.

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GOP Again Sustains Filibuster of Financial Reform

April 27, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Expect to see this headline over and over. In lieu of a breakthrough bipartisan deal, the Democrats are planning to hold procedural votes every day on ending a Republican filibuster of debating the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. They're not planning on stopping until the Republicans give up or a deal is struck.

For the second night in a row, the Senate voted 57-41 against beginning debate. Sixty votes were needed for passage. Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] broke ranks and voted with the GOP again (apparently he still hasn't had time to read the bill) and Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] voted against the motion again in order to preserve his right to bring it up for another vote under Senate rules.

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As expected, Senate Republicans have successfully sustained their filibuster of debating of the Democrats' financial reform bill, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. They stuck together and even one over one Democrat tonight on a motion "to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed" -- or ending debate on whether or not to begin debate the bill itself -- which required 60 votes for approval. It was rejected 57-41. Moderate Dem Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] sided with the Republicans, and Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] voted against the bill in order to preserve his right to bring the bill back to the floor again for another vote in the future.

But the Democrats aren't giving up. Here's what happens next.

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Change of Heart?

April 7, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Richard Shelby [R, AL], who just two weeks ago said that "safety and soundness [of banks] trumps...the consumer finance whatever," is all of a sudden championing a stand-alone Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA), the Washington Post reports:

Staff members for Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate banking committee, sent a proposal to their Democratic counterparts last week that would create an independent consumer financial protection agency, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

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When financial reform negotiations broke down a couple weeks ago, Sen. Bob Corker [R, TN] (pictured at right) was the one to stand up and say that a bipartisan bill was still possible. Last week, when the Republicans refused to participate in the mark-up of the bill, Corker called it "a very large strategic mistake," adding that financial reform "is an issue that almost every American wants to see passed." But today he announced that he "absolutely cannot support" the bil.

Senate Democrats, as we know, need to pick off at least one Republican, in addition to holding their own party together, to overcome an inevitable Republican filibuster. They have basically three options -- find a Republican other than Corker who may be willing to vote for the bill, negotiate down some of the provisions to a point that Republicans can support it, or call the Republicans' bluff and just bring the bill to a vote.

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It's a common refrain from Republicans in the year since the $787 billion stimulus became law: trash it in public but accept or even beg for the money for their districts in private.

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The Senate Confirms 27 Obama Nominees

February 12, 2010 - by Eric Naing

In an surprise turn of events, the GOP last night allowed the Senate to confirm 27 high-level Obama nominees. The relative flood of confirmations seems to be the product of a Tuesday meeting between President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell [R, KY] in which Obama threatened to use recess appointments to fill open government positions if Senate Republicans continued to block his nominees. Republicans have been blocking Obama's nominees at a historic pace. Sen. Richard Shel...

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The death of Rep. John Murtha [D, PA-12] means not only an open House seat in Pennsylvania, but also an open chairmanship in one of the most significant House subcommittees. Murtha was the chair of the defense appropriations subcommittee, which oversees Pentagon spending. Rep. Norm Dicks [D, WA-6], the new ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, is expected to be chosen by the House Democratic Caucus to take Murtha’s chairmanship. A lot of attention has been given to Murtha’s anti-war stance,...

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Dodd to Push for Quasi-Independent CFPA

February 9, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd's [D, CT] latest version of financial reform legislation includes a partially independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Financial reform advocates seem to think it's good enough. HuffPo has the details.

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Shelby Lifts Blanket Hold On Obama Nominees

February 9, 2010 - by Eric Naing

When we last checked in on Sen. Richard Shelby [R, AL], he had placed a blanket hold on all of President Obama’s pending nominees. This week, the hold ensnaring most of those nominees has been lifted. Shelby, as you recall, was angry because two earmarks that could mean billions for Alabama were in jeopardy. Yesterday, Shelby’s office released a statement confirming that most of the holds had been lifted: The purpose of placing numerous holds was to get the White House's attention on two i...

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GOP Senator Blocks All Obama Appointees

February 5, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Here is a perfect example of how the Senate works: Sen. Richard Shelby [R, AL] has put a blanket hold on every Obama nominee because of a disagreement over two pork projects in his state.

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