Senate Democrats are trying a new route to break through an impasse on writing banking rules to prevent another financial meltdown.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said Thursday he has recruited Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee to help draft a bill that can win the GOP support needed to get it through the Senate.
Because of Corker's willingness to negotiate, Dodd said he is "more optimistic than I have been in several weeks that we can develop a consensus bill."
Less than a week ago, Dodd said talks with the committee's top Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby, had reached an impasse.
The Senate Banking committee has been working for months to try to fashion legislation responding to the 2008 financial crisis, one of President Barack Obama's priorities. The bill would include new regulations to limit risk-taking by financial institutions and create more transparency in the global derivatives markets. It would set up a system to safely take down failing financial giants without burdening taxpayers. And it would create new protections for consumers.
The Democratic-controlled House passed its version of the legislation in December on a party-line vote.
But attempts to forge a bipartisan bill have moved intermittently in the Senate. Corker now represents the best hope for a bill that can muster the 60 votes needed in the Senate to overcome stalling tactics by opponents.
Corker said Thursday he is confident that "there is enough agreement on the major issues that we can create a bipartisan bill."
Corker has been working with Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat on the Banking Committee, for months to find common ground on banking regulations, especially on how to structure a system to dismantle failing firms that have become so leveraged and interconnected that their collapse could damage the financial system.
Dodd reached Corker at home Tuesday night and asked him to take Shelby's place as the lead Republican negotiator. Corker said he slept on it and then notified Shelby and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday that he had decided to accept Dodd's entreaty.
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