Republicans end standoff over bank bill 

Democrats are closing in on a major overhaul of the nation’s financial system after Senate Republicans agreed to drop a procedural blockade they had maintained for days.

The GOP lifted their filibuster of the bill after winning some concessions from Democratic lawmakers, but also accepting that their major concerns about the package sought by President Obama would not likely be addressed.

"There's not going to be a broad bipartisan agreement on the front end and that's just the way it's going to be," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., one of the negotiators.

But the deal reached Wednesday will allow Republicans the chance to amend the bill on some key points.

Corker said the two sides could announce a deal on one of the major aspects of the bill, perhaps agreeing to remove a $50 billion fund designated for the government to wind down failed financial institutions, which the Republicans oppose. But many other areas of disagreement will be left unresolved.

Republicans say they are far apart on several aspects of the legislation, in particular a provision that would create a consumer protection agency that they believe would cast too wide a net and ensnare small businesses, including car dealers and community banks, in a new layer of regulation and oversight.

"People don't understand that under this, their power would be immense and take in a bunch of things that really didn't cause the problem we're trying to solve," said Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio. "That's a major issue."

Democrats had hammered the GOP over its refusal to support the bill and threatened to hold repeated votes to bring it to the floor.

Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid paraded a crowd of senior citizens in front of reporters as an example of who the new financial reform bill aims to protect.

"They keep stalling and they keep stalling," Reid said of the Republicans. "And it appears that they're more concerned about taking care of the fat cats on Wall Street than they are the people who aren't so fat, the people who have been hit so hard, the consumers of America."

President Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One on a flight back from events with Democratic lawmakers in the Midwest that he hoped to sign a final version of the bill “very soon.”

Reid accused Republicans of "nitpicking" the bill, but is having problems in his own caucus gathering enough support for the measure and may see provisions important to Obama and the bill’s primary author, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., changed with bipartisan amendments.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., had joined Republicans in their refusal to bring the bill to the floor, saying he was concerned that new regulations for trading would be retroactive and would harm existing deals. Nelson said he wants the language to be prospective.

"There are a lot of people back home worried about the government overreaching and so you can expect people are very pleased we are not moving forward without something that is bipartisan," Nelson said.

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