SIGNS OF PROGRESS ON WALL STREET REFORM?…. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had taken the lead in trying to kill Wall Street reform. Today, on the Senate floor, he struck a less antagonistic tone, and there were signs of possible progress.

On Tuesday, McConnell returned to the chamber and announced he was “heartened to hear that bipartisan talks have resumed in earnest.” Senate Democratic leaders are preparing to bring the overhaul bill to the floor as early as Thursday, but all 41 Republicans have signed a letter stating their opposition to the bill in its current form. Unless Democrats can peel off at least one GOP senator to allow debate to proceed, a GOP-led filibuster could block financial regulatory reform indefinitely. […]

“I’m happy to hear my counterpart, my friend, Senator McConnell talk about the need for more negotiations,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), in remarks on the floor following McConnell’s speech Tuesday. “We don’t stand in the way of that.”

McConnell also told reporters today, “We believe the process to achieve [a bipartisan bill] has now been reconstituted. We are all confident that this can be fixed… Senator Shelby [the Republicans’ chief financial reform negotiator] believes that there’s been a very serious effort to re-engage.”

McConnell said the progress is the result of his threats and the letter with 41 Republican signatures vowing to unanimously oppose the legislation. Democrats are suggesting the progress is the result of a) McConnell struggling to keep his caucus united; b) bad press after McConnell was caught blatantly lying; c) bad press after the secretive trip to Wall Street by GOP leaders; or d) some combination of all of them.

Whatever. The point is, the effort appears, at least for now, to be gaining some ground in the Senate. In fact, Sam Stein reports that Republican Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the ranking member on the Banking Committee, said negotiations “have progressed to the point that the debate now centers on specific language rather than individual proposals.”

While McConnell specifically said just 48 hours ago that he wants to see senators “go back to the drawing board” on crafting the legislation, Shelby said, “We are not going back to the drawing board. I have said all along that we are probably conceptually together on — I’ve even said — 85 percent… Now we are getting down to words and phrases.”

If recent history is any guide, Republicans may very well be jerking Democrats around (again), and will decide to reject the proposal in its entirety after the latest round of talks, no matter what Dems offer in good faith. But, at least for today, there’s evidence of some progress.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.