WASHINGTON BUREAU — Senate Democrats today inched closer toward passage of H.R. 4173, the financial services bill, when Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., said he would vote for the measure.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that, even though Brown, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. – a Democrat who once leaned toward voting against the bill – now say they will vote for letting the bill come up for consideration on the Senate floor, H.R. 4173 supporters remain 1 vote.
Supporters of a bill need 60 votes in the Senate to prevent a filibuster, or endless round of debate by bill opponents, and allow the bill to come up for a vote.
In mid-June, Democrats and independents had 59 seats in the Senate. Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., has said he he will vote against the bill, and H.R. 4173 supporters lost another vote June 28, when Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., died.
Reid said today that he still hopes to complete work on H.R. 4173, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, by Thursday.
Reid could get a 60th vote in favor of consideration of the bill from Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.
Another potential supporter, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is balking because the bill uses unexpended Troubled Asset Relief Program funds as well as an additional levy on banks through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., to fund the bill. Grassley supported the original version of the Senate bill.
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, D, has the authority to appoint a successor to Byrd who would serve until the next election in November 2011, but Manchin is considering asking the state legislature to hold a vote this fall because he would like to run for the post himself.
Several banking and insurance lobbyists responded by saying that while the timing of Senate passage of H.R. 4173, remains up in the air, “This legislation will pass the Senate and become law within a reasonable period.”
In a statement, Brown said he has made the decision to support H.R. 4173 after studying it over the Independence Day congressional recess.
“I appreciate the efforts to improve the bill, especially the removal of the $19 billion bank tax,” Brown said.
As a result, he said, “it is a better bill than it was when this whole process started. While it isn’t perfect, I expect to support the bill when it comes up for a vote.”