Senate Democrats Gather Votes On Finance Bill

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The Senate is planning to take up the bill that would rewrite rules for the financial industry. Exactly when it comes to the Senate floor, depends on when the Democrats feel confident that they'll have enough votes to protect themselves from a Republican filibuster.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

One person who opted for golf over watching the World Cup final, was the president. Mr. Obama was relaxing during some time off another ahead of another big battle in Washington. The Senate is planning to take up the bill that would rewrite rules for the financial industry. Exactly when it comes to the Senate floor depends on when the Democrats feel confident they'll have enough votes to protect themselves from a Republican filibuster.

We're joined, now, by NPR's Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: What is likely to happen when the Senate takes up that financial overhaul bill?

ROBERTS: Well, as you say, they're waiting to see if they got the votes to stop a filibuster and that means waiting for West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin to name someone to replace Senator Robert Byrd, who, of course, died recently, to get that 60th vote. And even then, it's somewhat up in the air.

You know, the Republicans are out making arguments about a government takeover of everything - of the financial industry, of health care, of student loans -and those have really become the talking points. And it's scaring Republicans who are ready to deal on the financial services bill and giving a lot of ammunition to those who say no, we aren't going to cooperate with the Democrats with anything.

And they're getting more ammunition from the president's own deficit commission that was talking over the weekend to the National Governors Association, warning that the national debt is a cancer on the society and, you know, this makes it really hard for Democrats to pass anything that's going to cost any money.

MONTAGNE: And, Cokie, yesterday, White House aides fanned out across the Sunday talk shows to defend the president. Public opinion polls over the last few weeks have shown Mr. Obama losing ground among that really key group, independent voters.

ROBERTS: And that's losing enormous amounts of ground among Independents. And that had the president's own spokesman, Robert Gibbs, warning that the Democrats could lose the House of Representatives. Here he is on NBC's "Meet the Press."

(Soundbite of TV show, "Meet the Press")

Mr. ROBERT GIBBS (White House Spokesman): I think there's no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control. There's no doubt about that.

ROBERTS: Now, it's instructive that Gibbs was the person talking on one of the talk shows yesterday; David Axelrod, the president's advisor, was on several others. You know, this tells you what the administration wants to be talking about at any given time. They decide who's going to go on the Sunday shows. And it wasn't, say, the secretary of state or the secretary of defense or even the secretary of energy, in the middle of the BP oil crisis.

It was the president's advisors, his political advisors, and they are trying to get out the message that there's a real problem here. And what they're really trying to do is to energize that group of people who came out in 2008 and voted for President Obama, put him over the top. And that means young people, it means women, it means minorities and it does mean independents, and at the moment, that is a tremendous problem for them.

MONTAGNE: Cokie, very briefly, Republicans see a number of issues that could help them in November immigration, one them. Do you think they're right?

ROBERTS: They could be right in the short term. It's a tough issue for them in the long term, but the administration has, as you know, filed suit against the Arizona law and says they might file yet another one if that law results in racial profiling. So, they're trying to energize the Hispanic vote.

MONTAGNE: NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts. Thanks very much.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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