Top lawmakers met with President Obama Wednesday in order to regain momentum on financial regulatory reform legislation in Congress. Following the meeting, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) expressed confidence that the Senate would soon act – perhaps by Memorial Day – on the financial reform bill that was approved by the Banking Committee on a party line vote on Monday.
As Congress wraps up work on healthcare reform efforts this week and heads into its two-week Easter recess, Chairman Frank stated that financial regulatory reform would be the top issue in the Senate when Congress reconvenes in mid-April. Despite Democrats’ newfound confidence following their recent success on healthcare reform, Chairman Dodd must continue negotiations with the minority party and win at least some support from Republicans in order to win approval on the Senate floor, given the majority party’s loss of their 60 vote filibuster-proof majority this winter. In that vein, the Chairman predicted that such support would materialize in the coming weeks, given some Republicans’ potential reluctance to oppose a politically popular reform effort.
Following Senate floor action on its financial reform bill, a conference committee would be necessary in order to iron out differences between it and the legislation passed by the House in 2009. To that end, Chairmen Dodd and Frank plan to begin working out such differences in the near future, in order to expedite conference proceedings. While both the House and Senate versions seek to tackle the same major issues – such as increased consumer protections, new derivatives trading rules and establishing rules to avoid future bailouts of failing financial firms – the devil is in the details.
Nevertheless, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that “the President expects that we will finish financial reform in the next couple of months, certainly by the time we mark the second anniversary of the financial collapse in the early fall.”