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Tilting at Windmills

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July 12, 2010

AND THEN THERE WERE 59.... Senate Republicans still hope to kill the pending Wall Street reform package, demanding that that the majority come up with 60 supporters before the Senate is even allowed to vote. At this point, Democrats are very close.

There are, at present, 58 members of the Democratic caucus. One, Wisconsin's Russ Feingold, has vowed to vote with Republicans on final passage and to support the GOP filibuster, leaving the majority with 57 votes for the financial regulatory reform bill. Going into today, #58 is Maine's Susan Collins (R), who endorsed the legislation last week, and #59 was announced today.

Senator Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, says he is ready to support legislation to overhaul the nation's financial regulatory system, meaning Democrats may be able to finish the bill this week.

Mr. Brown forced Democrats to delay a vote because he wanted to study the measure over the Fourth of July recess.

Mr. Brown's support makes it very likely that the bill will pass in the Senate.

Well, probably. The question will likely come down to timing.

Dems need one more vote, and it's almost certainly going to come from one of three people. The easiest route would be support from Maine's Olympia Snowe (R), who already voted for the bill once, but who continues to say she's undecided, though it's unclear why. There's also a possibility that Iowa's Chuck Grassley (R) will help break his party's filibuster -- he also voted for the bill in June -- but he seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

If both Snowe and Grassley balk, the Senate will have to delay consideration until West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) appoints a temporary replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D).

Of course, Republicans could just let the Senate vote on the bill -- in other words, let the chamber operate the way it was designed to operate, and the way it functioned for the best part of two centuries -- but that's not going to happen. If Snowe and/or Grassley announce their support, expect passage by the end of the week. If both support the filibuster, expect passage by the end of the month.

Steve Benen 4:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (15)

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The phenomenon of Dems joining GOP filibusters is inexusable (and I say this as a fan of Feingold). If you don't like the bill, fine. Vote against it. Support the ongoing GOP crusade to break the Senate is childish and reprehensible.

Posted by: ChicagoPat on July 12, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

It is funny that the Democrats will bend over backwards to weaken the bill to get one more Republican vote but won't strengthen the bill to pick up a fellow Democrat.

Feingold is also correct is his principle objections. This bill is little more than a panacea. It does nothing to address the underlying weakness of the financial system. At best it creates an illusion that the system is now 'stable' and it will be off to races once again.

When the banking system comes screaming for another bailout five years from now, whether this bill passes or not, Feingold will be vindicated.

Posted by: thorin01 on July 12, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Of course, Republicans could just let the Senate vote on the bill..."

One honorable way for this to happen would be for one of the Republican senators who said wonderful things about Sen. Byrd's career in the Senate could cast Byrd's vote for him. We know that Byrd was a YES on breaking the filibuster, so how about showing some respect for Sen. Byrd and switching from NO to YES on breaking the filibuster? Oh, wait a minute, that would be the honorable thing to do, something that might show respect for the institution. Therefore, it's a non-starter. (I would guess that this has been done in the past, but don't know of any examples.)

Posted by: meander on July 12, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

It is funny that the Democrats will bend over backwards to weaken the bill to get one more Republican vote but won't strengthen the bill to pick up a fellow Democrat.

It's weird it seems to work that way. Could there be a reason for this seeming coincidence? Some sort of explanation for the re-occurring pattern? No, it must be either inexplicable or, even if it's not (it's not) 'political reality' or something is obviously to blame (though, of course, the other party is fairly immune to such things).

Posted by: shroup on July 12, 2010 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

"It is funny that the Democrats will bend over backwards to weaken the bill to get one more Republican vote but won't strengthen the bill to pick up a fellow Democrat."


Helloooooo!!! Giving Feingold what he wants would COST votes. Votes - plural. Meaning Dems would have to go back and negotiate with even more Republicans to get to 60. Why is this being turned into to some personal issue? Why is Feingold getting a pass for siding with the GOP on a filibuster?

Posted by: Alli on July 12, 2010 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

It is funny that the Democrats will bend over backwards to weaken the bill to get one more Republican vote but won't strengthen the bill to pick up a fellow Democrat.

Perhaps it's because the things they'd need to do to win that one Democrat would push away several other Democrats and sink the whole bill.

Seriously, are we really to imagine that Obama and Reid are intentionally keeping Feingold away even though they could easily get him without paying any costs for it? Jesus, if you think either Obama or Reid give a damn about ideology or bi-partisanship at this point, you're a bigger fool than any in Congress. At this point for them, it's all about passing the best bill they can get; and if they thought they could get an uber-leftie bill passed, they would.

And hell, even a shitty bill is better than nothing, which is why Feingold's "principles" don't mean a whole heck of a lot right now. Sorry, but the options aren't "This Bill v. Pony Bill." It's "This Bill v. Not A God Damned Thing." And this bill looks a lot better than the alternative. Maybe you think Democrats can proudly run on not having done anything to fix Wall Street this fall, but Obama and Reid think differently.

And just for the record: I honestly don't have a clue what's in this bill and I don't care. Anything that helps us keep Congress away from the Republicans next year is good with me. Maybe you like the idea of loons like Barton and Bachmann running the show, but I certainly don't.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on July 12, 2010 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK
Why is Feingold getting a pass for siding with the GOP on a filibuster?

Because some people love Feingold, so they don't care that he's perpetuating the idea that all bills in the Senate should require a 60+ supermajority in order to pass. All they care about is that Feingold is "looking tough," because they think that "looking tough" is more important than, you know, passing legislation.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on July 12, 2010 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK
The phenomenon of Dems joining GOP filibusters is inexusable (and I say this as a fan of Feingold). If you don't like the bill, fine. Vote against it. Support the ongoing GOP crusade to break the Senate is childish and reprehensible.

I have to agree. I too, am a fan of Feingold, but I am flabbergasted as to what he is trying to accomplish here. By supporting the filibuster there isn't even a ghost of a chance for additional bills to correct the weaknesses of the current one.

Why the hell can't he realize this? The status quo is EXACTLY what the banksters and Wall Street want to see.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on July 12, 2010 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

It is funny that the Democrats will bend over backwards to weaken the bill to get one more Republican vote but won't strengthen the bill to pick up a fellow Democrat.

That's because you're thinking of it as one for one. If doing what Feingold wants costs two or more others, then where are you?

the other party is fairly immune to such things

The reason why the other party doesn't have this keep happening is that they don't even want to try to accomplish anything. (That's how they feel when they're _in_ power too.) When Democrats are in power, they try to clean up messes and address major issues. Even within the Democratic caucus they have huge differences of opinion about how to go about that.

By contrast, Republicans are monolithic. They don't have differences of opinion, at least not on the same scale that Democrats do. (I.e., the difference between Snowe and DeMint is much less than the difference between Lincoln and Boxer.) Anyone who even hints at helping solve big national problems becomes a target, from Joseph Cao to Bob Inglis to Bob Bennett. You can be a flaming conservative and still get kicked to the curb over there, because it's total war.

Furthermore, they don't tolerate heterodoxy. That's also why there are a lot fewer of them than there used to be, because the previous generation of WASPy pro-business Republicans (people who would have been comfortable with George H. W. Bush) swung the Democrats' way. But they still believe more in laissez-faire than in liberalism, and that's why shepherding them always means "weakening" things from more liberal to less.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on July 12, 2010 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

It is funny that the Democrats will bend over backwards to weaken the bill to get one more Republican vote but won't strengthen the bill to pick up a fellow Democrat.

It's exactly this kind of impractical idealogical thinking--in this case, on the far left, but certainly on the far right as well--that keeps us from making even greater gains for middle and lower class folks.

Posted by: cr on July 12, 2010 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

While I was writing, Alli, Drs. Biobrain and Morpheus, and the always-reasonable Mnemosyne made my same point, and with much more punch.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on July 12, 2010 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Just to reiterate my earlier point, I think that Feingold deserves the title, "liberal lion" as much as Kennedy ever did.

What he's doing is what the Ben Nelsons, Blanche Lincolns, and Joe Libermans of the party do. I am very, very disappointed and hope he changes his mind like Kuncinich did on HCR.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on July 12, 2010 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

IF rather than 'conservative' 'centrist' or 'pragmatic' to describe the POS the dems are trying to pass, would it be okay to call it 'pro-business'? Thus, the argument is that what we can charitably call 'pro-business' legislation will reform the FIRE sector that caused this mess. Moreover, any real effort at financial reform is almost tacitly admitted to be beyond the reach of a large Democratic majority so a symbolic, mainly political victory is of paramount importance. Got it. Good luck with your partisan window dressing (save some for fixing and reforming Afghanistan, Gitmo, etc too). I doubt that anyone wants to go into a specific Feingold objections, but would rather use the mirror-image of the GOP tactic in calling his ideas 'far left'...

Posted by: shroup on July 12, 2010 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

too bad there isn't enough gumption in the democratic caucus to have played forced the rightwing into requiring super majority rule when they were in the minority. This lack of will is certain to continue into the post mid-term world. What does teapartyism in government look like when it's time to govern? Is Tom Delayism soon to be resurgent? Or worse? I am betting worse, much worse. Boehnerism, Palinism, Angleism?

Posted by: mickster on July 12, 2010 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

any real effort at financial reform is almost tacitly admitted to be beyond the reach of a large Democratic majority

This is true. And it's because the large Democratic majority has a whole wing that is pro-business by your definition, and this is the biggest Democratic majority we'll see in a long time so it's likely to be the leftmost point of equilibrium on policy we'll see in a long time. Thus financial reform has to run this gauntlet and get beaten down along the way. If you want something else to happen you need either a tougher and more activist Congress or a tougher and more activist electorate. So at a certain point IMHO you have to take what you can get, as much as it falls short of your ideals and principles, because waiting or trying again is not likely to make it turn out better.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on July 12, 2010 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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