Race to pass Wall Street reform

The smooth passage of the final
Wall Street reform bill later this week just got tougher.

Senate Democrats are scrambling to
secure the 60 votes they need to overcome a GOP filibuster following the death
of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and critical comments by Massachusetts Sen. Scott
Brown, a moderate Republican who had been supportive of the legislation.

The hang up for Brown: A provision
that would charge banks and hedge funds a new tax to pay the $19 billion
ten-year tab for implementing the new reforms. A Brown spokeswoman on Monday
reiterated that Brown “cannot support any bill that raises taxes.”

The House is expected to start
debating the 2,300-page bill as early as Tuesday afternoon, with final passage
Tuesday evening or Wednesday. And the Senate will take up the bill as soon as
the House is finished.

To get the bill to President Obama
by the self-imposed deadline of 4 July lawmakers can’t make any changes.

The measure, the result of more
than a year of negotiation and debate, aims to strengthen consumer protection,
shine a light on complex financial products and establish a new process for
shutting down giant financial firms in trouble.

Senate Democrats need 60 votes to
get around an expected Republican-led filibuster. They had trouble crossing
that threshold when the Senate passed its version in May.

Byrd, who died Monday morning at
age 92, had been among the more dependable Democratic votes on Wall Street
reform.

The bill has been a slog in the
Senate, which took two tries to make it to 60 on final passage. Now, Democrats
have 58 senators who align themselves with the party.

Congressional watchers said that in
the end they believe the legislation will pass.