Republican Senator Richard Shelby said he and Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd are close to reaching a bipartisan agreement on financial overhaul legislation the Senate plans to begin considering this week or next.
“We’re making progress; I believe that we’re going to get us a bipartisan bill,” Shelby, of Alabama, told reporters today in Washington. “We’re probably conceptually together on 85 percent” of the bill.
Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who plans to meet with Shelby later today to continue negotiations, said in a speech from the Senate floor he and Shelby are 80 to 90 percent in agreement. The two senators are “getting closer” to a bill that will attract bipartisan support, Dodd told reporters.
An agreement between Dodd and Shelby would draw much-needed Republican votes to the legislation, aimed at redesigning U.S. rules governing Wall Street. Last week, all 41 Senate Republicans signed a letter pledging to oppose the measure as it was passed by Dodd’s committee last month.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said today he expects to bring the financial overhaul measure to the floor this week or next.
Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have criticized a provision that would give the government authority to take apart failed large financial firms using a $50 billion industry-supported fund. Republicans say the provision would create a permanent taxpayer-funded bailout.
Reid said Democrats are looking at dropping the fund, and Dodd said yesterday he’d be willing to consider alternatives.
President Barack Obama is talking with senators about removing the $50 billion fund from the plan, his spokesman Bill Burton told reporters today. Burton said Dodd’s bill is “strong,” and predicted it will get bipartisan support.
Obama won’t “water down the legislation just to be able to call it bipartisan,” Burton said. The president plans to give a speech promoting the financial overhaul plan on April 22 in Manhattan.
Shelby said the remaining issues he and Dodd must resolve include a proposed consumer protection bureau at the Federal Reserve and a provision to strengthen derivatives oversight, along with the $50 billion fund.
“We’re probably not that far away,” Shelby said regarding talks with Dodd. “There are a lot of tedious, difficult negotiations going on still, but I think we can get there.”