GOP Drops Opposition To Debate On Banking Bill

Republicans have dropped their objections to Democratic efforts to begin debate on a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, ending GOP tactics that had stalled the bill for three days.

Republicans said they would attempt to change the bill on the Senate floor after reaching an impasse with Democrats on efforts to compromise in private talks.

Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, said he had assurances from the chairman of the banking committee, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, that Democrats will adjust his banking regulation bill to address concerns that it perpetuates bailouts.

"We have reached some assurances in that, he has and his staff have made some recommendations that we live, and we've made some they like," Shelby said. "I think we made real progress on that."

Dodd, for his part, said he was open to more suggestions on how to improve the bill.

"We haven't sealed anything, but we've had great conversations as two people of good will can have," Dodd said.

After losing three votes in the past three days aimed at breaking the GOP filibuster blocking the measure, Democrats had threatened to keep the Senate in session throughout the night. Shortly after they announced plans to do so, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement saying Republicans had reached a key agreement with Dodd.

"The first thing we had to ensure with this bill is that it didn't leave taxpayers on the hook for any more Wall Street bailouts," McConnell (R-KY) said. "I raised the alarm on that issue, and the two parties have been looking into it."

McConnell said the deal involves making changes in the bill to end what he called "taxpayer bailouts." Democrats say no such taxpayer bailouts were ever in the bill.

McConnell said he hoped Democrats' avowed interest in improving the bill on the Senate floor is genuine. If Democrats get the agreement they seek to bring the bill up, a spokesman says they would cancel their plans to pull an all-nighter on the Senate floor.

The agreement does not bridge other significant differences between the parties on the bill.

McConnell and other Republican critics are now focusing their objections on Dodd's proposal to create a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau within the Federal Reserve. The agency would have power to police transactions between institutions that provide financial services and their customers.

Republicans says the bill would have unintended circumstances that could ensnare small-business people for merely extending credit to their customers.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report

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