Dems Could Add One Senate Vote for Final Bank Bill Vote

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WASHINGTON – Democratic West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin is widely expected to appoint a successor to the late Sen. Robert Byrd over the July 4th congressional recess, giving Senate Democrats a foot up in their efforts to avert a sure Republican filibuster on the bank reform bill.

“It’s very possible there’ll be an appointment before the vote,” John Magill, chief lobbyist for CUNA, told Credit Union Journal yesterday, while the group continues to work to convince a handful of Senate Republicans to join their party’s filibuster.

The appointment of a Byrd successor, likely to be a Democrat, would give the Democrats one more vote in their efforts to build the 60 votes they need to overcome a filibuster, which would block final passage of the bill.

The final Senate vote is the last chance for credit unions and other opponents of the legislation to defeat the landmark bill, which would set up a new oversight scheme for too-big-to-fail banks; create a consumer financial protection agency; set new standards for trading of financial derivatives; and regulate Wall Street rating agencies for the first time.

Credit unions, which would be little affected otherwise, have launched a lobbying blitz against the bill because of an amendment that would have the Federal Reserve regulate and set prices on debit card interchange, a lucrative source of credit union revenue.

“We’re working with all the Republicans who voted yes the first time,” said the CUNA lobbyist of the four Republicans who voted with the Democrats to overcome a filibuster and pass the bill the first time. The bill, which has been changed dramatically since then after it was merged with the House’s version of the bank bill, must be passed a second time now for final passage.

The House approved the bill Wednesday night on a party-line vote, with all House Republicans voting against it.

Any vote to filibuster or block a filibuster will be very close and Magill said credit unions will continue to lobby against the measure until the final vote, expected during the week of July 12. But the lobby against the vote will be made more difficult because of the death of 92-year-old Senator Byrd, the longest-serving member of Congress in history, as credit union representatives want to be careful not to seem callous.


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