WASHINGTON — Senate Banking Committee Chris Dodd said Monday he was optimistic lawmakers would move forward with legislation overhauling financial markets this week, as the Obama administration and congressional Democrats sought to build support for the measure ahead of a Senate vote.
Sen. Dodd told reporters that Friday's move by the Securities and Exchange Commission to bring a suit against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for fraud could make it hard for GOP lawmakers to block efforts to move forward with the legislation.
"I don't really believe Republican members want to be in the position where they're talking about filibustering a bill that would allow us to address those issues," Dodd said, expressing hope they'd have "across the board" support.
The comments came as the White House and top Democrats sought to boost momentum ahead of Senate consideration later in the week. The White House on Monday said President Barack Obama will travel to New York on Thursday to deliver a speech on the proposed regulatory changes, which include oversight of derivatives products, new authority to deal with the largest financial institutions, and greater protection for consumers.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is also stepping up his efforts, with a meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon with a key Republican moderate, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, to make the case for the legislative package. That follows meetings between Geithner and Republican Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Richard Lugar of Indiana last week.
Democrats are eager to press what they see as an advantage in the wake of Congress's enactment of landmark health-care legislation. They hope to pass sweeping new rules for Wall Street by Memorial Day. Geithner, appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," expressed optimism that Democrats would be able to overcome GOP opposition.
"I am very confident that we're going to have the votes for a strong package of financial reforms that'll bring derivative markets out of the dark, help protect the taxpayers from having to fund future bailouts and trying to make sure we're getting Americans some basic protection against fraud and abuse," Geithner said.
Senate Republicans over the last week have raised specific concerns about a $50 billion resolution fund to break up failing companies included in Dodd's version of the legislation. Proponents, including Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair, have argued that the government should have the funds necessary--paid for by large financial institutions--to shut down a failing financial firm if necessary.
Critics have countered that the mere existence of the fund could retain the belief in the financial markets that some firms are "too big to fail." Dodd, who appeared with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said he was open to listening to other ways for the government to deal with faltering financial institutions but said Republicans are not offering concrete suggestions.
"I hear the floor statements, I see the press releases...I have yet to hear a knock on the door," Dodd said.
Warner, who has worked extensively with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., on that portion of the legislation, said "we need to hear specific suggestions, not broad-based partisan" rhetoric.