Reform Amendments Near Advance

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The top Democratic negotiator on financial regulatory reform says two major amendments – including one that kills a disputed $50 billion bank liquidation fund – could clear the Senate unanimously on Wednesday, a move that would accelerate debate on the landmark Wall Street bill.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, saying that he and GOP negotiator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) believe the Senate finally would be able to move forward in the amendment process that has been stalled for a week.

"I'm not making any procedural requests here, but based on conversations we've had late last evening and again early this morning, my hope is—and I think Sen. Shelby shares this hope with me” that amendments could be voted on fairly soon, Dodd said.

Dodd said passage of an the amendment he constructed with Shelby on dissolving a disputed $50 billion resolution fund could come as early as Wednesday morning, immediately following passage of a provision offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on "too big to fail" banks.

The Connecticut senator's declaration of progress came after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called out Republicans late Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning for obstructing action on the bill.

A Republican aide said Tuesday the GOP believed votes should not begin until Dodd and Shelby's amendment was finished—a belief Reid heartily disputed twice on the Senate floor.

"This is really something. [Republicans] will not let us vote on amendments [they] have offered, amendments that we've agreed to—they won't let us vote on them," Reid said Tuesday night. "I came to the floor today to let everyone know the frustration the American people must feel and the frustration that many feel here in the Senate as a result of the 'Party of No' continually doing what they're doing."

Wednesday morning, the majority leader's message was more of the same: one of frustration that a week after opening debate on sweeping Wall Street reform, no amendments have been debated.

"We're waiting around on issues relating to the financial crisis ... [as] states all over this country [are] desperate for us to do something with this legislation," Reid said. "We'd like to move forward and start legislating on that. It would seem after two weeks, it would be a pretty good thing to do."

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