Dodd Pushes to Get Bill on Derivatives to Floor; 'No Time for Small Fixes or Tweaking,' Lincoln Says
Byline: Patrice Hill, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Senate Democrats on Wednesday resumed their drive to enact sweeping changes in the nation's financial system even as they met behind the scenes with Republicans to try to forge a bipartisan bill.
The Senate banking committee's chairman, Christopher J. Dodd, promised to start Senate floor debate on the legislation within hours after the Senate Agriculture Committee approved for the first time an effective ban on bank trading in derivatives, the risky and complex securities that helped ignite the 2008 global financial crisis.
This is no time for small fixes or tweaking around the edges, said Agricultural Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Democrat, who faces a tough re-election fight with challenges from both the left and the right. This is the time for bold change and big decisions about the future of our country and the global financial system.
One Republican - Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa - voted for the derivative reforms in a 13-8 committee vote, arguably the most radical change yet to be added to the legislation, although he said he still has reservations about the overall bill.
Many other Republicans - like the White House - objected that the provision could spawn unforeseen problems and pleaded for more time for negotiations over the 1,300-page bill to bear fruit.
All sides expressed optimism that a compromise was within reach despite many areas in dispute.
We're working at this thing. I think we're getting closer to the possibility of having a bill that will attract bipartisan support, Mr. Dodd said. The Connecticut Democrat is searching for votes from among a dozen or so moderate Republicans with whom he sees common ground.
It was not clear whether his threat to bring the bill to debate this week could force a confrontation with Republicans that would derail the possibility of an agreement. Democrats are likely to need at least one of the Senate's 41 Republican votes to proceed with debate on the bill.
We want a good bill, a bipartisan bill. The consequences of having a bad bill are great for our country said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
The Texas Republican said she came away from meetings with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers believing we are pretty close to an agreement. But she said 41 senators are against bringing a bill to the floor unless it's a good bill.
President Obama predicted the Senate would approve a bill within weeks and said the first-time regulation of the shadowy but gargantuan derivatives markets - which are estimated at up to $600 trillion in size - is essential to prevent the kinds of abuses and excesses on Wall Street that led to the financial crisis. …