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Final Vote on Financial Reform This Week, Reid Says

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would file for cloture on the financial regulatory reform bill “as soon as tonight,” with a vote on final passage by the end of the week.

The Nevada Democrat made his case Monday after gaveling the chamber into session, noting “the American people not only overwhelmingly support this legislation, [they] loudly demand it.”

He added, “But it won’t do anyone any good unless we send it to the president for his signature.”

Reid highlighted the progress made on scores of bipartisan amendments to the bill, which has been on the floor since April 28. Reid also said that Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) should continue crafting a bipartisan manager’s amendment even after cloture is invoked. Dodd and Shelby have been in talks for months over the legislation, and while the two have not struck a bipartisan deal, aides expect the duo to reach agreement on a manager’s package.

While some proposals will be folded into the manager’s package, a handful of other key amendments will be scheduled for votes this week. The top issues remaining are how best to create a consumer protection agency and how to regulate the derivatives market.

If the Senate passes financial reform by the end of the week, the chamber could turn to the war supplemental bill voted last week out of the Appropriations Committee. The bill includes funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Reid noted another spending measure with funding for oil cleanup and recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast would be rolled into a larger package.

Reid also rebuked oil companies in his opening remarks, suggesting they may be liable for $10 billion in damages.

Current law only holds them responsible for covering $75 million, and both the White House and some Congressional Democrats have pushed for a substantial increase in that cap.

“We must make sure that oil companies learn their lesson while they spend record profits to drill oil,” Reid said. “They must find safer ways to drill.”

Senate Democrats also hope to take up a package of expiring tax provisions and unemployment benefits before adjourning next week for the Memorial Day break.

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