Democrats Close On Filibuster-Proof Majority To Pass Bank Bill

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WASHINGTON – Iowa Republican Charles Grassley announced yesterday he will change his vote on the bank reform bill and vote no this time, but the Democrats still appear to have the 60 votes they need to overcome a planned filibuster by the Republicans when the Senate moves for final passage, expected as early as today.

But even as Grassley was changing his vote, a reluctant Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson was agreeing to vote yes, making the 60th vote for the landmark measure.

The other three of the four Republicans who voted for the bill in May – Maine’s Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and Scott Brown of Massachusetts – announced earlier this week they will vote to pass the bill, leaving the credit union-opposed measure on the verge of becoming law.

The credit union lobby, which originally supported the bill, changed their position and are working at the final hour to defeat the 2,300-page package because of the amendment that will regulate lucrative debit card interchange fees for the first time.

Grassley said he now opposes the bill because of a last-minute change that will raise $18 billion to pay the costs of the package from additional FDIC premiums assessed banks over $10 billion and from funds left over in the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and because he said the bill doesn’t go far enough in regulating financial derivatives.

The bill will set up a new oversight scheme for large too-big-to-fail financial institutions; establish a consumer financial protection agency; develop regulations for financial derivatives; and set new standards for Wall Street ratings agencies, among other things.

Under Senate rules, the Democrats need 60 votes to end a filibuster and move to a vote on the bill. Separate versions of the bill were passed by both the House and Senate but after the versions were combined and changed they had to be voted again. The House easily passed the final version two weeks ago and President Obama has pledged to sign it into law once the Senate votes final passage.

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