The state of financial reform in the Senate today. (graphic: kevindooley via Flickr)

Senate Democrats are seriously unhappy with how Wall Street reform has unfolded. The unkempt nature of the amendments process virtually assured this. Some amendments would get strung along until the end, and ultimately squeezed by both Republican obstruction and a leadership timeline. And they are less inclined to vote for cloture without their amendments getting a shot.

Several Democratic sources said getting the 60 votes needed to beat back an attempted filibuster, or invoke cloture, could fall short at the 2 p.m. vote because several Democrats are angry that they have not been able to get votes on their amendments.

However, Democratic leaders are still relatively optimistic that they will be able to persuade intransigent Members to fall in line before the vote is held, aides and Senators said.

Whitehouse, Harkin, Cantwell, Merkley and Levin are among those pissed off (though Merkley and Levin may have found a solution by filing a second-degree amendment).

Here’s one way to persuade intransigent members and act as a human shield for one of their own in the meantime: Chris Dodd appears to have pulled back his amendment on derivatives that would toss out the proposal to spin off the lucrative swaps trading desks from the big banks. “Dodd will not bring up the derivatives amendment he had filed,” spokeswoman Kirstin Brost said.

Given that the amendment was filed on the election night for Blanche Lincoln, then pulled back when it became clear she was headed to a runoff for the next three weeks, this is a transparent move. I have been saying this for at least a week, that runoff is the best thing that could possibly happen to the financial reform bill.

But will it persuade angered Senators who saw their amendments undercut to vote for cloture? Stay tuned…

UPDATE: We’re not having a 2:00 cloture vote. We’re getting amendments from Snowe, Landrieu, Whitehouse (that’s the credit card amendment), Vitter and Pryor.

UPDATE II: Keep in mind that I always thought the derivatives piece would get stripped out in a House-Senate conference committee. The House bill is much weaker on this issue, and the White House doesn’t support spinning off the swaps desks. I still think that’s possible, although presumably the White House wants a bill to sign before June 8, the date of Lincoln’s runoff. And if that piece gets touched anytime between now and then, Lincoln’s toast. (I think she’s probably toast anyway.)

UPDATE III: Democrats got a boost when Ben Nelson agreed to vote for cloture. All Dems + Collins means cloture can pass. But if they don’t sort out the amendments issue, they won’t have the votes. Dodd tried to put together a series of amendments, but Carl Levin objected, presumably because he wanted Merkley-Levin in the queue rather than having to go as a second-degree amendment. So it’s chaos. It’s Lord of the Flies on the Senate floor right now. I don’t think anyone knows how this will turn out.

Senate Democrats are seriously unhappy with how Wall Street reform has unfolded. The unkempt nature of the amendments process virtually assured this. Some amendments would get strung along until the end, and ultimately squeezed by both Republican obstruction and a leadership timeline. And they are less inclined to vote for cloture without their amendments getting a shot.

Several Democratic sources said getting the 60 votes needed to beat back an attempted filibuster, or invoke cloture, could fall short at the 2 p.m. vote because several Democrats are angry that they have not been able to get votes on their amendments.

However, Democratic leaders are still relatively optimistic that they will be able to persuade intransigent Members to fall in line before the vote is held, aides and Senators said.

Whitehouse, Harkin, Cantwell, Merkley and Levin are among those pissed off (though Merkley and Levin may have found a solution by filing a second-degree amendment).

Here’s one way to persuade intransigent members and act as a human shield for one of their own in the meantime: Chris Dodd appears to have pulled back his amendment on derivatives that would toss out the proposal to spin off the lucrative swaps trading desks from the big banks. “Dodd will not bring up the derivatives amendment he had filed,” spokeswoman Kirstin Brost said.

Given that the amendment was filed on the election night for Blanche Lincoln, then pulled back when it became clear she was headed to a runoff for the next three weeks, this is a transparent move. I have been saying this for at least a week, that runoff is the best thing that could possibly happen to the financial reform bill.

But will it persuade angered Senators who saw their amendments undercut to vote for cloture? Stay tuned…

UPDATE: We’re not having a 2:00 cloture vote. We’re getting amendments from Snowe, Landrieu, Whitehouse (that’s the credit card amendment), Vitter and Pryor.

UPDATE II: Keep in mind that I always thought the derivatives piece would get stripped out in a House-Senate conference committee. The House bill is much weaker on this issue, and the White House doesn’t support spinning off the swaps desks. I still think that’s possible, although presumably the White House wants a bill to sign before June 8, the date of Lincoln’s runoff. And if that piece gets touched anytime between now and then, Lincoln’s toast. (I think she’s probably toast anyway.)

UPDATE III: Democrats got a boost when Ben Nelson agreed to vote for cloture. All Dems + Collins means cloture can pass. But if they don’t sort out the amendments issue, they won’t have the votes. Dodd tried to put together a series of amendments, but Carl Levin objected, presumably because he wanted Merkley-Levin in the queue rather than having to go as a second-degree amendment. So it’s chaos. It’s Lord of the Flies on the Senate floor right now. I don’t think anyone knows how this will turn out.

David Dayen

David Dayen