Reid to GOP: I dare you

REID TO GOP: I DARE YOU…. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced this afternoon that “the games of stalling are over” when it comes to Wall Street reform. “I’m not going to waste any more time of the American people,” he declared.

And with that, the Senate leadership started the clock and scheduled its first procedural vote for 5:15 p.m. (ET) on Monday afternoon.

As President Obama spoke in New York on Thursday about the need for such landmark legislation, Reid detailed plans to hold a crucial test vote on the Senate floor Monday.

“The games of stalling are over,” Reid said.

He will need Republican support to reach the 60 votes required to overcome the threat of a filibuster and move with formal debate on the bill, which among other things would create an agency to protect consumers against abuses in mortgages and other loans, set up a council of regulators to watch for risks to the financial system, and give the government power to wind down large, troubled financial firms.

And what of the bipartisan talks that have made some progress this week? They’ll continue — and by most accounts, participants are optimistic — but Reid isn’t going to wait for them anymore.

It’s a bit of a gamble for the Democratic leadership. If a final deal is not in place on Monday afternoon, all 41 Senate Republicans may very well block the debate from getting underway. Of course, Dems don’t necessarily see that as a bad result — they’ll use it against Republicans in the campaign, and then keep working until they get the legislation through the chamber.

But Democrats seem to think it won’t come to that anyway. Either the deadline will produce a completed deal, or a GOP senator or two may feel compelled to break ranks, vote to start the debate, and keep the process moving forward.

Either way, Reid and the Democratic leadership seem to feel pretty confident right now, secure enough to effectively dare Republicans to stand in the way of the reform effort. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “We feel we have the upper hand.”