Bitter battle lies ahead on financial regulation overhaul 

Just a few weeks ago, Republican and Democratic Senators had high hopes that financial regulatory reform would finally provide an opportunity for bipartisan agreement on major legislation. But Republicans left a White House meeting accusing President Obama of trying to jam through a liberal bill.

Wednesday's White House meeting was supposed to bring the two parties together on the issue, but it seemed to do the opposite. Republicans are now gearing up to block a solely Democratic initiative that would increase the regulation of banks and capital markets and give the federal government the power and a $50 billion fund to liquidate large financial institutions on the verge of collapse.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, who attended the meeting, said the Democratic proposal "sets up a fund for permanent bailouts that guarantees taxpayers are going to have to keep subsidizing irresponsible behavior on Wall Street, and lets the federal government pick winners and losers in the private sector."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., predicted overwhelming Republican opposition to the bill. He left the meeting convinced that the White House got too involved in the earlier negotiations and nixed compromise language the two parties had been working on last month.

"The Democrats were pulled back from the White House, and the impression one would get from that is that they thought this was a great political issue for them and they wanted to try to jam it," McConnell said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called McConnell's assessment "a figment of his imagination," and said Democrats tried repeatedly to negotiate with Republicans before finally moving on a bill without them.

"So far, the only solution that Republicans have offered is to support the same policies that got us into this mess that put millions of Nevadans and Americans at risk," Reid said.

Reid wants to vote on the bill before the Memorial Day recess, but he will likely have to first negotiate with Republicans to find at least one GOP vote needed to stop a filibuster.

But even moderate Republicans are blaming Obama for the collapse of bipartisan talks between Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

"Every time there was an agreement, a trip to the White House is made and then they come back and say 'No, no, no,' " said Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.

Republicans argue that Obama wanted to produce the most liberal bill possible, while Democrats insisted the GOP was simply unwilling to compromise.

Dodd appeared on the Senate floor to denounce the Republican criticism of his bill and suggested he would end new compromise talks under way with the banking committee's top Republican, Richard Shelby, of Alabama.

"I'm not going to continue doing this if all I'm getting the other side is a suggestion somehow that this is a partisan effort," Dodd said.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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