Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed is one of seven Senate Democrats named to a House-Senate panel that will iron out the differences between the two chambers' versions of a sweeping financial overhaul bill.
Reed, a senior member of the Senate banking committee, helped craft the legislation. But he enters the conference amid significant disappointments:
The senator and his allies may still have a shot at getting an independent consumer protection agency in place - the House version of the financial reform bill includes a stand-alone bureau, after all. But while Lincoln's derivatives language seems destined to wind up on the cutting room floor, amid opposition from the Obama Administration and other Democrats, it is an alternative cooked up by Senators Carl Levin and Jeff Merkley that seems likely to replace it. Reed, himself, has recently come out in support of the Levin-Merkley amendment.
Reed's office says he will press, broadly speaking, for the strongest language possible in the compromise measure. But the senator and his Democratic colleagues know there are limits on what they can do without a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Four Republicans - Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, and Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins - voted for the Senate version of the financial reform package. And Dems have to keep all or most of them on board.
Reed is not the only Rhode Island senator who will have to settle for less than he might want on financial reform. Sheldon Whitehouse's amendment allowing states to cap credit card interest rates was defeated by a wide margin on the Senate floor.