Amid the partisan atmosphere of the Senate’s marathon debate on healthcare reform, leaders of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee last week sought to revive the notion that Democrats and Republicans are working together to craft financial regulatory reform legislation.
In a joint statement released on December 23, Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Ranking Republican Richard Shelby (R-AL) declared their intent to work together, cited “meaningful progress” and stated that they share many of the same goals. The Senators focused on broad goals that include the need for consumer protections to be strengthened, the need to modernize regulation and oversight of the derivatives market, and the need to end the concept of “too big to fail.”
The Chairman and Ranking Republican also announced their intent to come to an agreement on any unresolved issues before the Senate reconvenes in late January. However, despite the Committee’s display of bipartisanship – a feat that has become increasingly rare as the Senate slogged through a bitter debate on healthcare reform this year – many industry insiders remain doubtful that a deal will be reached by early 2010.
The fact that the House and Senate still need to reach a conference agreement on healthcare reform legislation – President Obama’s top legislative priority – and that Chairman Dodd remains a key player in that debate also adds to the skepticism surrounding the fate of financial regulatory reform legislation in the Senate.