Harry Reid has filed for cloture on the financial regulation bill. All 41 Republicans indicated about a week ago that they’re prepared to filibuster and prevent it from being taken up for consideration. But more recently, key Republicans have indicated that they’re near a deal with Chris Dodd. By setting the clock running, Reid ensures that either Republicans need to work something out over the weekend or else all 41 are going to have to go on record as blocking efforts to crack down on Wall Street abuses.
Over at HuffPost, Ryan Grim reports that Reid hosted a combative press conference earlier this afternoon in which he all but dared Republicans to side with big banks and filibuster Wall Street reform.
In a highly unusual move, Reid directed reporters' attention to a TV screen in the briefing room, which soon played multiple clips of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky declaring that the bill is a "permanent taxpayer bailout" of big banks. McConnell has been pilloried by editorial boards for the line, which repeated talking points from Republican pollster Frank Luntz. McConnell's repetition of the charge was a turning point in the debate and gave Democrats the momentum they're riding into Monday's vote.
Reid was asked if he'd go so far as to say McConnell was lying. He paused for a very long time before concluding: "What he said here is not true."
As Yglesias noted, a week ago Republicans were unified in their threat to filibuster, but now that Democrats have essentially said "bring it on," GOP unity appears to be fracturing, member by member. It just goes to prove this counterintuitive truth of politics: in order to get bipartisanship, you need to be willing to be partisan. Now that Dems have demonstrated a willingness to move forward on a partisan track, Republicans realize that if they want to have any influence at all, they need to get on board the train.