Disclosure: I'm advising Open Left in a paid capacity on procedure with regard to the Wall Street reform bill, and thought readers at Daily Kos and Congress Matters would be interested in the information as well.
Senate and House conferees on Wall Street reform reconvened Tuesday because of Republican objections to $19 billion in fees that would be placed on big financial firms.
The meeting would follow Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) letter to the chairmen of the conference committee on Tuesday, in which he said he would oppose the Wall Street overhaul bill as it stands.
Because I am always on the lookout for minutia that allows me to qualify all predictions on procedure (because what else would I write about, really?), we're looking pretty smart right now having discussed the possibility of reopening the conference previously.
It appears that rather than have the House act on the conference report at all, the conferees will simply reconvene of their own accord. I wouldn't have guessed that that was an option available to them, given the formality with which conference procedure has been handled. But then again, why not? I haven't actually seen any notes from the Clerk of the House indicating that the conference report has actually been filed, and therefore turned over to the jurisdiction of the House. I guess that could mean the "papers" are still with the House conferees. So that might very well make it the prerogative of those conferees to agree to turn around and head back to conference.
If that's the case, then I guess the entire report is open to revision, which could theoretically be a dangerous thing. Hopefully the conferees have had enough of tinkering with this thing, though, and will limit their work on it to settling the minimum number of issues necessary to get the report through the Senate.
How much change is necessary is an open question, though. If it's just the matter of this collection of $19 billion in fees from the big banks to cover their risk of failure, then I wonder whether it's necessary to do all that much. Scott Brown (R-MA) says he objects. And it's pretty likely that Maine's Senators are ready to pull their customary Lucy & Charlie Brown act, as well.
But if Governor Manchin acts with dispatch and names a successor to Sen. Byrd soon after the funeral services, that successor could very well be in place before the Senate gets to act on the conference report, anyway, since House rules ordinarily require a 72 hour layover between filing and consideration, and Senate rules require 48. If they finished their negotiations tonight, they could conceivably engineer a Senate vote on Thursday night and then a House vote afterward, even though the House was originally expected to act first. That's a lot of hoops to jump through just to shave things really, really close, and thereby pass the bill before the July 4th recess. But if they're willing to wait to do so after the break, they might well gain some tactical advantage if they can get another cooperative Democratic vote in place reasonably soon.
Other entries on this subject:
- What's up with conference committees?
- Wall Street reform conference kicks off today
- More fun things to know about conference: the "unit rule"
- Yet more fun things to know about conferences: scope of authority
- Conference and the filibuster
- Inside the conference: why the formality?
- The mechanics of conference: possession of the papers
- Issues in conference: PAYGO
- Conference intensifies and magnifies everything
- In conference, the rules are there are no rules
- Wall Street reform conference concludes