Financial Regulatory Reform: Look to the Conference

In order to get good financial regulatory reform passed, get a bill to Conference.

Brian Beutler has an interesting piece today over at TPM, suggesting that while Republicans might be promising to be even more obstructive in light of health care reform, they are actually looking to make a deal:

[T]here are some signs that Republicans are beginning to question whether it’s the brightest idea to let Democrats own this issue–and paint the GOP into a corner with the unpopular financial sector. Last week, after Senate Banking Committee Chair Chris Dodd advanced a Dem-only bill, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)–the committee’s ranking member–came back to the table for the third time in the past several months.

This is good news, but it seems to me that the key issue for the Democrats will be getting the bill to Conference, which was the initial strategy on health care reform.

Many observers are not satisfied with Dodd’s current draft, and it figures to be watered down significantly by Senate Republicans.  But what will happen if and when the Senate bill meets up with Barney Frank’s significantly stronger House version in Conference?  You can’t filibuster inside the Conference itself: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Conference bill comes out quite strong.  After all, progressive Dems had a massive incentive to make concessions on health care, but as The Shrill One has pointed out, a bad bill is worse than no bill.

And that will apply if and when a stronger bill comes back to the Senate as a Conference Report.  If the Senate Republicans threaten to filibuster it, then they will be back precisely where they do not want to be — with the financial industry and the big banks hung around their neck.  And that will be precisely where President Obama and Congressional Democrats will want them to be during the campaign.

So I suspect that Dodd will make a lot of concessions to get a bill out of the Senate, and then gladly take the stronger measures of the House bill in Conference, daring the Senate Republicans to filibuster it.

At least that will be the strategy.  We’ll see.  That was the strategy on health care, and we all saw how that went.  But this is a new year, and a different issue.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

2 thoughts on “Financial Regulatory Reform: Look to the Conference”

  1. Do you want the government to stand between you and your Wall Street broker? Well yes as a matter of fact. The public may trust their doctor but they sure don't trust Wall Street fat cats.

  2. This only works if there's relentless coverage of the GOP filibuster. Otherwise the bill just dies in the senate.

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