Cantwell Will Support Wall Street Bill

Posted July 1, 2010 at 7:21pm

Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell announced Thursday evening that she will switch her position on a major financial regulatory overhaul and help her party get to the filibuster-proof majority needed to advance it.

Though Cantwell’s vote is important, Senate Democratic leaders may still have trouble reaching the necessary 60-vote threshold on the House-Senate conference report without the support of Republican Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has already said she is “inclined to support” the overhaul, now that Democrats have removed a $19 billion tax on banks and hedge funds. Snowe and Brown have said they are still reviewing the compromises made between House and Senate negotiators.

The House adopted the conference report earlier this week, and the Senate will take it up after the July Fourth recess.

Cantwell opposed the Senate version of the overhaul in May because she said it did not go far enough to regulate complicated financial instruments known as derivatives, which are used to essentially bet on the future prices of commodities or other financial products.

Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) was the other Democrat to join all Republicans — save for Snowe, Collins and Brown — in attempting to filibuster the bill, and Feingold has already announced his opposition to the conference report.

Cantwell said derivatives regulations added in the conference negotiations, as well as assurances from Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, secured her support.

“This bill makes significant strides toward preventing the kind of financial meltdown that we saw in the fall of 2008,” she said in a statement Thursday.