Corker: GOP Overplayed Its Hand on Financial Reform

Posted March 24, 2010 at 2:29pm

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) criticized his Republican colleagues Wednesday for over-playing their hand in bipartisan talks on financial regulatory reform, a politically popular issue that will likely see floor action this spring.

“I am still hopeful that we can get to a regulatory reform bill that can receive strong bipartisan support, but as I told my Republican colleagues at lunch today, I believe our hand has been weakened now that the bill has left the committee on a party-line vote,” Corker said in a statement. “Over the past six months there have been multiple opportunities to achieve a bipartisan consensus, and allowing the bill to leave committee without doing so is, in my opinion, a strategic error.”

The Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee approved the financial regulatory overhaul Monday on a party-line 13-10 vote. While Members from both parties initially said the divided vote oddly cleared the way for a bipartisan agreement, Corker seemed to dispel that message with his statement Wednesday.

Both Corker and Banking ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) spoke before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday and predicted that a bipartisan agreement might still be reached with Dodd. Shelby was scheduled to meet later in the day with Banking Committee Republicans to discuss the strategy on regulatory reform, which is expected to come before the full Senate before Memorial Day. The issue has garnered more attention in recent weeks, with President Barack Obama issuing a statement Monday urging Democrats to pursue a strong overhaul of financial regulations.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “can call the bill up at any time now, and the White House is obviously very aware of that fact,” Corker said. “Moving forward, Ranking Member Shelby will continue leading the effort for Republicans, and I stand ready to work with him and Chairman Dodd and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to reach a middle ground on regulatory reform.”

Dodd and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) met at the White House with President Barack Obama on Wednesday to discuss regulatory reform. Dodd told reporters after the White House session that a bill could be passed by Memorial Day.