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Financial regulation measure is stalled in Senate

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), left, and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) attend a news conference about the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), left, and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) attend a news conference about the bill. (Alex Wong/getty Images)

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One aggrieved senator was Cantwell. Before the vote Wednesday, she sat firmly planted in her seat on the Senate floor, silent and stern.

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In particular, she was upset that party leaders had not allowed a vote to change a section of the bill that concerns financial derivatives. Cantwell said she is seeking to close loopholes that remain in the legislation. For instance, she wants tougher sanctions for firms that enter into deals that are not approved by central clearinghouses.

Cantwell also has teamed with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on a proposal to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law, repealed in 1999, that separated commercial from investment banking. That amendment also hasn't had a vote.

Cantwell was visibly irritated during the vote as Democratic leaders approached her several times. At one point, she could be heard saying to Reid, "Jesus Christ, Harry."

Feingold said he was not satisfied that the legislation would prevent another financial meltdown. "Ending debate on the bill is finishing before the job is done," he said in a statement.

Democrats said they were hopeful that they would win back at least one Democrat who voted against the measure on Wednesday -- most likely Cantwell. Party leaders expect other Republicans, including Brown and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), both of whom have voted with Democrats on key amendments, to join Snowe and Collins in supporting the bill.

After the vote, the Senate continued debating amendments late into the evening. Reid canceled his plans to attend a state dinner at the White House.

Senators voted down an amendment by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) that would have forced big credit-card lenders to abide by state laws governing interest rate limits. The provision, rejected 60 to 35, had won praise from consumer advocates but encountered vehement opposition from the banking industry.

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