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Reid seeks to fast-track financial overhaul bill

They settled on an approach for giving the government power to wind down large, failing financial companies without leaving taxpayers on the hook. Democrats found enough GOP support to block a Republican proposal to scale back the scope and authority of a proposed new consumer protection bureau, long a source of partisan wrangling. And a bipartisan bloc of lawmakers also voted down a controversial amendment that would have placed hard caps on the size and risk levels at banks, potentially forcing some of the nation's biggest financial firms to shrink.

For all the heated rhetoric, the financial overhaul bill hasn't approached the vitriol of the health-care bill, in which every amendment and procedural vote turned into a legislative brawl.

"So far, this process has been about the best I have seen in some time," Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Friday.

Corker, like most other senators, expects the new financial rules to pass sooner rather than later. It's just that the two parties tend to have different ideas about what qualifies as sooner and later.

Leaders in both parties asked members to spend part of the weekend trying to consolidate similar amendments to the bill in an effort to allow as many proposals as possible to get a hearing.

Reid has said he hopes to wrap up the financial overhaul bill by the end of the week. With no votes scheduled for Monday or Friday, that leaves lawmakers just three days to hammer out the remaining differences on topics as complex as regulating the $600 trillion financial derivatives market.

Several times in recent days, Reid has ticked off other priorities on the Senate's plate. Appropriation bills. Food-safety legislation. Tax provisions. Presidential nominations. A jobs package. And on and on. "We have no choice but to finish" the financial overhaul soon, he told reporters, warning that lawmakers might have to delay their planned August recess.

His counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), seemed unmoved.

"It's a very, very important subject, dealing with all of America's financial services industry," he told reporters of the pending bill. "I must tell you, I don't think this is a couple-of-weeks bill . . . it's not that we don't want to pass it, but we do want to cover the subject."

Only two more months until Collector Car Appreciation Day.

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