Reg Reform Bill Vote May Occur Thursday

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WASHINGTON – With the votes lined up, the Senate is set to vote as early as Thursday on financial regulatory reform. It would then go to President Obama, who is expected to sign the sweeping bill into law soon.

The final vote needed for the legislation fell into place Tuesday. Sen. Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat who signaled he might have concerns and remained undecided as late as Monday, said Tuesday that he would support the legislation. His promised vote came on the heels of two other critical vote confirmations, with Republican Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe of Maine saying Monday that they would vote in favor of the regulatory overhaul, according to American Banker, an affiliate of Credit Union Journal.

That means that barring any unforeseen upheavals, Democrats have the assurances they need to secure the 60 votes necessary for Senate passage of the bill regardless of the pending appointment to the West Virginia Senate seat. (The seat became vacant with the death of Democrat Sen. Robert C. Byrd and is expected to be filled by the governor with a temporary appointment by next week.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would start its final work on the financial reform bill Tuesday by filing a vote for cloture and in the meantime would continue to debate the small-business lending bill.

Filing cloture is a procedural maneuver in the Senate that requires 60 votes to prevent a filibuster on a controversial bill. The motion takes a few days to "ripen," and would set the clock for a procedural vote Thursday. If the cloture motion achieves 60 votes as anticipated, final passage on the bill would require only a simple majority and could easily be achieved quickly after the cloture vote.

Reid, however, acknowledged Tuesday that Republicans could insist on debating the bill for 30 hours and delay final passage to Saturday.

"I hope to have a vote on it Thursday morning," he said. "I'm hopeful and confident that we'll get cloture on that and I hope that the Republicans won't take the 30 hours – if they do we'll have to come back to finish it on Saturday, but we are going to finish the bill."

Reid also said he hoped the Senate would soon complete a bill that would establish a $30 billion small-business lending fund but said Republicans were throwing up roadblocks by arguing over amendments to the bill.

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