Dodd Wants Financial Reform Bill On Senate Floor in April
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) Friday said he hopes to have the full Senate consider a financial reform bill in April, following the Easter recess.
"It is my hope that shortly after our return on the second week of April that we will come to the floor of the United States Senate to debate, hopefully a full-throated debate, about how we reform the financial services sector of our nation,” Dodd said on the Senate floor.
Earlier this week, Dodd and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated they hoped to have debate and voting completed by Memorial Day.
Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle essentially confirmed the timeline, saying, "We hope to consider the legislation in the coming weeks."
Dodd is still holding talks with Republican members of the panel to work on a more bipartisan bill, but barring any last-minute compromise measure, the legislation will largely be decided on the Senate floor, with or without amendments.
Earlier Friday, the GOP's ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told CNBC, "I believe we can get a reg reform bill. I hope it’s a good one. If we can do this it will be a monumental."
He added, however, that the Dodd proposal does not do enough to end the too-big-to-fail doctrine, saying the government needs to send the message that "nothing is too big to fail."
Shelby's comments Friday echoed comments in a letter he sent to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Thursday, where he said the the so-called Dodd bill—(for the panel's chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Ct.)—would create a "$50 billion slush fund" at the Treasury Department.
CNBC.com obtained a copy of the eight-paragraph letter, which also says the Dodd proposal gives the Fed "enhanced emergency lending authority that is far too open to abuse." (Click here to read the letter.)
"The secretary tells me he's very interested in putting the too-big-to-fail doctrine to rest," Shelby told CNBC Friday.
Geithner Thursday said he believes the administration was in a good position to get a measure approved quickly with the support of Republican lawmakers. That would stand in contrast to the administration's health care legislation, which did not attract Republican support.
"Our hope is, and I think we're very close, our hope is we're going to have Republicans join with Democrats in passing a strong bill quickly," he said.
In a somewhat unusual move, the Senate Banking Committee Monday approved Dodd's draft legislation on a 13-10, party-line vote without any discussion of amendments, even though hundreds had been submitted ahead of the mark-up process.
Assuming all 59 Senate Democrats support the bill, they'll need to attract at least one Republican vote to avoid a GOP filibuster when the legislation comes up for debate in the full Senate.
The legislation working its way through Congress represents the most sweeping change in financial regulation since the 1930s.
It would give the government power to split up financially troubled firms considered to represent a threat to the economy. It also puts together a council of regulators to watch for risks in the financial system and creates an independent consumer watchdog.
Geithner said that the administration would not support any measure that did not provide for a consumer protection agency with an independent budget and the ability to write rules and enforce those rules across the financial system.
Geither's comments are part of a stepped up lobbying campaign by the Obama administration now that health care reform legislation has been signed into law.