Wall Street reform effort heating up

WALL STREET REFORM EFFORT HEATING UP…. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sounded impatient when he told reporters today that he’s moving forward with legislation on financial regulatory reform. “We have talked about this enough. We have negotiated this enough,” Reid said, adding that the Senate may vote as early as next week.

For his part, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) had another stemwinder on the Senate floor today. If you thought Dodd was visibly frustrated yesterday, check out his remarks today. The senator seems to have grown pretty tired of Republicans’ nonsense on the legislation, and I can’t say I blame him.

Speaking of Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who seems desperate to kill the Democratic bill because, well, it’s a Democratic bill, is trying to secure 41 solid commitments from his GOP caucus to prevent a debate of the legislation. His office is reportedly circulating a letter in the hopes of filibustering the motion to proceed on the bill (in effect, McConnell wants to not only prevent a vote on Wall Street reform, he also wants to prevent a debate).

At this point, however, McConnell is having some trouble locking down complete unanimity from his caucus. It’s unclear exactly how many signatures he has on the circulating letter, but he has reportedly “fallen short of the 41 signatures he needs,” at least for now.

While McConnell keeps trying to shut down the process, at least one Republican senator seems to expect some GOP members to sign onto the Democratic bill. Tennessee’s Bob Corker (R) told ABC News this morning that he’d be “stunned if we do not reach a bipartisan agreement.” He added, “[A]t the end of the day, I think we’re going to have a solid bipartisan effort.”

Helping drive the process is the fact that Democrats are being unusually aggressive of late, practically daring Republicans to get in the way. If the GOP backs down, Dems get the bill they want. If the GOP prefers obstructionism, Dems believe they’ll have a political weapon they’ll use to undermine Republicans on a key issue.

Hill aides told Brian Beutler “that they’d relish the prospect of putting Republicans on the side of big banks in opposition to reg reform.”

This is, in other words, an example of lessons learned. During the health care debate, Dems kept pleading with Republicans to play a constructive role. Democrats delayed the process for months, making concessions and accepting compromises, all in the hopes that a Republican or two might be willing to negotiate in good faith. The efforts were wasteful and counter-productive, and Dems aren’t willing to endure the same mess.

Sources close to the process suggest the White House is telling Senate Dems they’re doing the right thing. Rather than signaling a willingness to tolerate more GOP nonsense, the West Wing is telling Reid & Co. to keep moving forward, whether Republicans like it or not.