The next vote to see if the Senate can continue debate over whether they'll agree to allow Wall Street reform forward starts at 12:20 eastern today, and there are some hints that the Republicans have played out the game. TPM's Brian Beutler reports:
Now that both sides acknowledge that a grand deal is not in the offing, Republicans are inching toward breaking their filibuster. This morning on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, sounding resigned to the fact that the Democrats outlasted him, dropped all talk of allowing negotiations to continue, and turned his attention to measures in the Democrats' bill he wants to see fixed.
"[T]his has been a very useful exercise," McConnell said. "By giving people time to actually look at this bill and study the details for themselves, we've enabled them to assess not only the potential impact of the actual text of the bill itself, but also some of the unintended consequences it could have."
That could be the result of yesterday's blistering Levin hearings with Goldman Sachs. After that spectacle, it would be harder for the GOP to justify blocking this effort. It could also be because yesterday Sen. George Voinovich signalled that he was tired of this and would inevitably switch his vote. Whether that's today is the unknown until they actually vote. For instance, Politico reads the tea leaves and finds that the Republicans are still obstinate.
They also find divergent stories: Harry Reid says there is no more negotiating, and Chris Dodd says that he and Shelby are still talking, and that "they had come very close to a compromise on "too big to fail" provisions and were now working through the details on derivatives and a federal consumer protection agency." Which would mean that there are two shots at the strongest too big to fail and CFPA provisions--through amendments or in conference with the House.
Today's other soon-to-be-resolved mystery is what Ben Nelson will do if he doesn't have Republican cover to vote no. If a Republican switches, is he going to be the vote to keep blocking the bill? He has as many as 6 million reasons to do so.
April 27 (Bloomberg) -- Senator Ben Nelson, who supported an exemption to proposed derivatives rules sought by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., [which was stripped from the bill] owned as much as $6 million worth of stock with his wife in the Omaha, Nebraska-based company, financial disclosures show.
A Nebraska Democrat, Nelson reported last year that he owned between $500,000 and $1 million of stock in Berkshire in 2008, and his wife owned between $1 million and $5 million. Senators report their holdings each year in broad ranges. New financial disclosure reports are due May 15.
If Nebraska voters were pissed at Nelson over the Cornhusker Kickback, how are they going to react to the news that he has two constituents: Warren Buffett and his own portfolio? We'll find out soon, if not today.
Update: Snowe, Corker, Brown (MA), Collins all early "no" votes. If Voinovich switches, he'll have to switch alone.
Update 2: Doesn't look like it's happening today. Ben Nelson just voted "no" again.
Update 3: That seals it for today. Voinovich is a "no."
Update 4: And Harry Reid just switched his vote to "no" so that he can bring the bill back up again tomorrow.
Update 5: Fail 56-42. Robert Byrd was not there to vote, hence the loss of one "aye" from the previous votes.