Will Scott Brown kill Wall Street reform?

WILL SCOTT BROWN KILL WALL STREET REFORM?…. Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) record on the financial regulatory reform package is less than pretty.

In April, he said he simply couldn’t support the legislation, in part because the bill is “going to be an extra layer of regulation.” Brown was apparently unaware of the fact that an extra layer of regulation was the point of the legislation. The financial industry went unchecked and nearly destroyed the global economy. That’s why the legislation is being considered — to bring oversight and accountability through regulation.

Soon after, Brown was asked what kind of changes he’d like to see to the bill. He told a reporter, “Well, what areas do you think should be fixed? I mean, you know, tell me.”

In May, Brown came around and voted to break a Republican filibuster and in support of final passage. The bill proceeded to a conference committee, which wrapped up its work on Friday, and final passage could come as early as this week.

Brown, however, is now weighing whether to try to kill the bill.

The Massachusetts Republican worked behind closed doors last week, secretly pushing a provision to exempt some major Massachusetts financial firms from new regulations. Democrats, needing Brown’s vote, acquiesced.

Brown is now poised to betray his colleagues anyway, saying he can’t vote for any bill that raises any tax on anyone or anything. Pat Garofalo flagged this CQ item.

On Friday, Brown questioned a provision added to the bill late in negotiations that would charge large banks and hedge funds a fee to generate as much as $19 billion to help cover the cost of the bill. “My fear is that these costs would be passed onto consumers in the form of higher bank, ATM and credit card fees and put a strain on lending at the worst possible time for our economy,” he said in a press release. “I’ve said repeatedly that I cannot support any bill that raises taxes.”

Just to be clear, Brown is prepared to kill one of the most important bills of this Congress, bringing accountability and safeguards to an industry that nearly destroyed the global economy, because it will include a modest fee on banks that pays for the legislation.

This from a guy who doesn’t even seem to understand the legislation he’s voting on.

With Brown balking and Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) having passed away, is the legislation actually in trouble? It’s certainly possible. Last month, to overcome a GOP filibuster, Dems relied on four Republican votes — Brown, Grassley, Snowe, and Collins — which made 60. Without Brown and Byrd, that’s 58, which is obviously two short of an absurd mandatory supermajority.

Of course, two Democratic senators — Cantwell and Feingold — voted with Republicans to filibuster the legislation, because they deemed it too weak. If they can be convinced to allow the Senate to vote on the legislation — hardly an unreasonable request — Dems would only need two of the four GOP senators who backed the bill in May to overcome the Republican obstructionism.

If not, passage that seemed obvious on Friday may be delayed for weeks — all because Republicans won’t let the Senate vote up or down to bring some safeguards to Wall Street. That voters are prepared to reward this party is a never-ending source of amazement.