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Dems say go, GOP says not yet to finance reform debate

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Dems' plan for financial reform
  • Lawmakers from both parties say deal is close on a finance reform bill
  • Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said talks are not expected Monday
  • Republicans have enough seats in the Senate to block the start of debate

Washington (CNN) -- Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has scheduled a late afternoon vote Monday to move ahead with a Senate financial reform bill, but Republicans warn they are not prepared to launch debate on the measure.

Leading lawmakers from both parties making the rounds of Sunday political talk shows said a deal is close on a reform bill, but top-ranking Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was among those saying he didn't expect debate to proceed on Monday.

"We don't have a bipartisan compromise yet," McConnell said on "FOX News Sunday." "But I think there's a good chance that we're going to get it."

Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama told NBC's "Meet the Press" that they would continue working during the day Sunday to reach a deal on financial reform, one of President Obama's top legislative priorities.

But Shelby said, "If nothing happens between now and (Monday), the Democrats will not get" any Republican support to open debate on the measure.

Republicans have enough seats in the Senate to block the start of debate; without at least one Republican vote, debate won't be able to begin.

The House has passed its version of a financial regulation reform bill intended to prevent another Wall Street meltdown like the one in 2008 that led to the U.S. recession.

Dodd and Shelby have been negotiating a Senate bill for months, though their talks broke down when Dodd recently held a vote on the proposal by the Senate Banking Committee he chairs. The committee's Democrats approved the measure without any Republican support.

Last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee also passed a measure to tighten regulations on the complex system of trade known as derivatives.

One Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, joined Democrats on the committee in supporting the measure. Negotiations involving Dodd, Shelby and other senators now are focused on merging the two Senate proposals into a single bill.

Reid's strategy is to force Republicans to either allow debate to proceed or go on record opposing Wall Street reforms that are strongly supported by the American public.

On the NBC show, Dodd said he hoped the continuing talks with Shelby would yield an agreement to allow the debate to begin on Monday. Any further changes necessary could take place in the amendment process during debate, Dodd argued.

"This doesn't end the debate tomorrow. This begins debate," Dodd said of moving forward on the legislation in the Senate. "Tomorrow if another crisis occurs in this county, we're no better off than we were in 2008."

Shelby said the two sides were "very, very close" in concept, but still had to iron out differences over "two or three" provisions. "It's very tedious," he said, adding that a deal by Monday was doubtful.

Another top Republican negotiator, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, told ABC's "This Week" that talks are focused on the major elements that must be in the bill, which he identified as stronger regulations of derivatives, increased consumer protections and ensuring the orderly liquidation of failing companies.

CNN's Tom Cohen and contributed to this report.