WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans ended three days of resistance on Wednesday and said they were ready to allow debate of legislation to overhaul regulation of the nation’s financial system.
The Republicans, who were gathering to make their formal decision, appeared to back down after Democrats threatened to keep the Senate in session through the night to dramatize the standoff.
Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the banking committee, said that efforts to negotiate important changes to the bill before beginning the debate on the floor had fallen apart. “I believe we owed the American people our best effort to make whatever changes we could to this incredibly complex piece of legislation because it will have wide-ranging implications for our economy,” Mr. Shelby said in a statement.
Mr. Shelby said that the banking committee chairman, Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, had assured him that Democrats would consider Republican amendments on the floor. But the Republicans do not have the votes to win approval of any of their amendments without substantial Democratic support. And the decision to allow floor debate to begin appeared to be a significant retreat on the part of the Republican minority.
Democrats reacted cautiously without understanding what had changed the Republican thinking. Republicans remained opposed to a number of provisions in the bill and still control enough votes to filibuster and ultimately prevent the bill from being adopted
I haven’t followed this issue closely, I will admit, but I have followed it, and I still don’t know exactly what it is that the Republicans were objecting to in this bill, or why they believed it was so important to prevent debate from even starting (keep in mind that there will have to be a second cloture vote to close debate and the GOP still has enough votes to prevent cloture).
Apparently, neither did they.