Are GOP Warnings Of Permanent Bailouts True?
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Its MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.
Renee Montagne is in Idaho today, courtesy of Boise State Radio. She's speaking tonight at Boises historic Egyptian Theater.
Here in Washington, Republican senators gave up a chance to speak all last night. Before going through with an all-night session, Republicans gave up on their effort to block debate on new financial regulation. Democrats got the bill to the Senate floor while Republicans say they won some concessions.
And we have more this morning from NPR's Audie Cornish.
AUDIE CORNISH: After failing three times in three days to cut off the Republican filibuster, Democrats were ready to pull an all-nighter.
Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland called the bipartisan talks nothing more than a delay tactic.
Senator BEN CARDIN (Democrat, Maryland): So we're going to stay here, and if the Republicans are going to filibuster it, the American people are going to see that they're filibustering this issue.
CORNISH: All week, Republicans - joined by one Democrat, Nebraskas Ben Nelson - had stood together against bringing the bill to the floor. The GOP argues it had to do this to win concessions in the bill before processing it on the floor. They note that in the last big Senate debate on health care, only one Republican floor amendment got through. That argument held the minority together for three votes. But by midweek, some moderates, like Ohio Republican George Voinovich, were hinting that they were ready to move on.
Senator GEORGE VOINOVICH (Republican, Ohio): If they're not able to work something out, then I think that what we need to do is open it up and go through the amendments on the floor and see if we can't come up with something that really does the job that we all want it to do.
CORNISH: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the bipartisan negotiations reminded him of his mothers favorite soap opera.
(Soundbite of TV show, As the World Turns)
Unidentified Man (Announcer): As the World Turns.
CORNISH: Of course ATWT has been cancelled, and so were those bipartisan talks by the end of the day. News of the break came first from Republicans clearing the ways for those in their ranks who wanted to proceed.
Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander said the delay served a purpose.
Senator LAMAR ALEXANDER (Republican, Tennessee): We acted together to exercise our 41 votes in a very effective way, to provide a check and balance to improve the bill on the too-big-to-fail part. Now its time to go to the floor and we can use our votes and our voices to try to provide a check and a balance to improve the bill further.
CORNISH: That too-big-to-fail part refers to the proposed $50 billion pool to be funded by a bank tax and used to liquidate failing financial companies. Republicans say they made progress in getting rid of it. They also lobbied for a floor procedure that would adopt amendments with just 51 votes. Not the 60 the Senate has been requiring all year.
Here is Richard Shelby of Alabama, the lead Republican on the Banking Committee, whos been negotiating with Banking Chairman Chris Dodd of Connecticut.
Senator RICHARD SHELBY (Republican, Alabama): We have reached some assurances in that he has and his staff have made some recommendations that we like and weve made some they like. I think we made real progress on that. I know we have to seal seal it on(ph). But I think that Senator Dodd is working in good faith on that.
CORNISH: So the bill will come to the floor and the degree of that good faith will soon be tested. The challenge ahead remains formidable, as Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made clear in discussing the bill last night.
Heres Senator Reid.
Senator HARRY REID (Democrat, Nevada; Senate Majority Leader): Nothing has changed from our end since Monday.
CORNISH: And heres Senator McConnell.
Senator MITCH MCCONNELL (Republican, Kentucky; Senate Minority Leader): Much has indeed changed since Monday.
CORNISH: One thing is clear - formal debate will begin at noon today. Expect it to last weeks and expect many, many amendments. The sticking points today will still be flashpoints on the Senate floor. Republicans object to the power and reach of the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
Theyve raised concerns about the sweeping revisions to rules governing financial derivatives and the basic idea of bringing those products within the controls of regulated exchanges. In fact, that provision is the first one up for debate.
Audie Cornish, NPR News, the Capitol.