So much for finreg cloture

SO MUCH FOR FINREG CLOTURE…. On Monday, the Senate leadership announced the debate on Wall Street reform had gone on long enough, and started the clock on a cloture vote on Wednesday afternoon. For a while, things looked encouraging — Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) announced he’d vote with the majority, as would Maine Sens. Susan Collins (R) and Olympia Snowe (R).

So, problem solved? Of course not.

Senate Democrats failed this afternoon to get the 60 votes they needed to end debate on the financial reform bill.

Two Republicans crossed the aisle and voted with the Democrats. But with multiple Democrats voting against cloture, and another absent, the Democrats fell just short. The final vote was 57-42.

Some Democrats whose votes were still in doubt earlier today — like Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) — voted in favor of cloture. But others — Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) — voted against cloture.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) switched his vote to opposition for purely procedural reasons (by voting “nay” he can bring the motion to the floor again). The absent senator was Arlen Specter, who likely would have voted with the majority.

But Cantwell and Feingold, both of whom reportedly wanted more consideration for their preferred amendments, sided with Republicans and blocked the process from moving forward.

The leadership will no doubt try again sometime soon.

Update: The AP adds, “Still left for the Senate to address are whether to exclude auto dealers from the oversight of a consumer financial protection bureau. Other amendments still being considered would ban commercial banks from trading in speculative investments and impose state interest rate caps on credit card issuers.”