Democrats reconvene talks on financial regulation bill to appease key GOP senators

Jon Ward Contributor

Democrats in Congress reopened negotiations between the Senate and the House over a financial regulation bill on Tuesday after a handful of key Republican senators said they could not support the bill in its current form.

At the heart of the disagreement was a $19 billion tax on banks that drew opposition from Republican Sen.’s Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins of Maine and Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, was on thin ice as he tried to wrangle enough votes to pass the bill. Because of the death Monday of Sen. Robert Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, Reid’s majority has slipped from 59 votes to 58. He needs 60 to overcome the Republican filibuster of the bill.

Yet Reid was down to 57 votes with the expressed opposition of Sen. Russel Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, who said he did not think the bill will prevent another economic crisis.

After Brown announced earlier in the day Tuesday that he would not vote for the bill in its current form, Democrats decided to reconvene the conference committee that had originally ended its work last Friday.

Later Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Grassley said Tuesday that the senator is “opposed” to the $19 billion tax as well. Grassley spokeswoman Jill Kozeny did not say definitively whether the senator will vote against the bill.

“While participating in the Kagan nomination hearing, Sen. Grassley is reviewing the financial regulation conference report to see what’s been changed from the Senate bill, including derivatives reform and credit-rating agency conflicts of interest,” Kozeny told The Daily Caller by e-mail.

“He’s opposed to tax increases, including the $19 billion tax increase that banks would pass on to customers, according to the CBO,” she said.

Reid is hoping to pass the bill out of the Senate this week with a goal of getting it to the president’s desk before July 4.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that the administration is “on the cusp” of passing a bill.

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