And then there were 59

AND THEN THERE WERE 59…. Senate Republicans still hope to kill the pending Wall Street reform package, demanding that that the majority come up with 60 supporters before the Senate is even allowed to vote. At this point, Democrats are very close.

There are, at present, 58 members of the Democratic caucus. One, Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold, has vowed to vote with Republicans on final passage and to support the GOP filibuster, leaving the majority with 57 votes for the financial regulatory reform bill. Going into today, #58 is Maine’s Susan Collins (R), who endorsed the legislation last week, and #59 was announced today.

Senator Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, says he is ready to support legislation to overhaul the nation’s financial regulatory system, meaning Democrats may be able to finish the bill this week.

Mr. Brown forced Democrats to delay a vote because he wanted to study the measure over the Fourth of July recess.

Mr. Brown’s support makes it very likely that the bill will pass in the Senate.

Well, probably. The question will likely come down to timing.

Dems need one more vote, and it’s almost certainly going to come from one of three people. The easiest route would be support from Maine’s Olympia Snowe (R), who already voted for the bill once, but who continues to say she’s undecided, though it’s unclear why. There’s also a possibility that Iowa’s Chuck Grassley (R) will help break his party’s filibuster — he also voted for the bill in June — but he seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

If both Snowe and Grassley balk, the Senate will have to delay consideration until West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) appoints a temporary replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D).

Of course, Republicans could just let the Senate vote on the bill — in other words, let the chamber operate the way it was designed to operate, and the way it functioned for the best part of two centuries — but that’s not going to happen. If Snowe and/or Grassley announce their support, expect passage by the end of the week. If both support the filibuster, expect passage by the end of the month.