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Reid Guarantees Vote On Safe Banking Act, Will Support It

A pretty positive development for both the Sanders amendment to audit the Fed and the Brown-Kaufman amendment to cap the size and leverage of the mega-banks: Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader facing a tough re-election contest, will support both of them, and contrary to some rumblings he guaranteed a vote for Brown-Kaufman on the Senate floor.

Harry Reid will make sure that an amendment to break up megabanks and cap their size comes up for a vote, the Senate majority leader said. He added that he was leaning heavily toward voting for the amendment, cosponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.).

Reid will also support an amendment from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that will authorize an audit of the Federal Reserve, he said […]

“Oh, it’s going to come up. I’ll make sure it comes up,” said Reid of the Brown-Kaufman amendment. “Unless my staff convinces me differently. But what I know about it, I’ll vote for it.”

Reid said he has not been lobbied by the White House to oppose either Brown-Kaufman or the Sanders amendment. “No one’s talked to me,” he said.

This gives the Safe Banking Act the support of the top two Democrats in the caucus, Harry Reid and Dick Durbin, who endorsed it the other day and called it “a game changer.” The amendment picked up the support of Russ Feingold and Al Franken today, with Feingold threatening to filibuster the bill if it does not include serious banking reform. The fact that this is happening in an election year is aiding efforts to toughen up the bill, with Senators wanting to distance themselves from Wall Street seeking to curry favor with voters.

But the establishment has some tricks up their sleeves. On the audit the Fed amendment, expected to go up for a vote today, the White House may be trying to ready a “side-by-side” amendment, adding a vote on a weaker Fed transparency amendment with the purpose of killing the Sanders bill and giving Senators something else to support. Bernie Sanders only found out about this by reading the New York Times today.

Still, that amendment has yet to be filed, and with the Majority Leader’s support, it’s going to be difficult for the financial elites to stop this freight train. We may get some change to the banking industry yet.

UPDATE: A New Way Forward has been whipping the vote on the Safe Banking Act, and now counts 22 Yes or Lean Yes votes, with several Republicans in the undecided category.

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David Dayen

David Dayen