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Updated: April 29, 2010 08:29 IST

Republicans to abandon blockade of US banking bill

AP
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Commodities Futures Trading Commission and for the Securities and Exchange Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Wednesday, before the Senate Financial Services and General Government subcommittee hearing on the proposed fiscal 2011 appropriations for the CFTC and the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Photo: AP.
Commodities Futures Trading Commission and for the Securities and Exchange Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Wednesday, before the Senate Financial Services and General Government subcommittee hearing on the proposed fiscal 2011 appropriations for the CFTC and the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Photo: AP.

Republicans set the stage on Wednesday for lifting their blockade against legislation to tighten regulations on Wall Street, saying they would try instead to change the bill on the Senate floor.

Earlier in the day, Republican senators had blocked the beginning of a floor debate for a third straight day, contending they needed more time to try to work out compromises with Democrats in private talks. Republicans huddled in the late afternoon on their next step.

There had been signs that some Republicans were growing weary of continuing to block the bill after President Barack Obama and other Democrats accused them of siding with Wall Street, an institution that rivals Congress in its unpopularity.

Sen. George Voinovich, a Republican, said on Tuesday he would vote to let the bill advance to the Senate floor if bipartisan talks were no longer progressing.

“I have an idea of how much time it takes to cut a deal,” he said. “If that’s not possible, then we go on.”

Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Banking Committee, said on Wednesday he had received assurances that Democrats would adjust the bill to address Republican concerns that it would perpetuate bailouts of banks. But he said he and committee chairman Chris Dodd had given up finding common ground on other provisions, including Mr. Dodd’s consumer protection language that Republicans say goes too far.

“Now that those bipartisan negotiations have ended, it is my hope that the majority’s avowed interest in improving this legislation on the Senate floor is genuine and the partisan gamesmanship is over,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said the negotiations had addressed her concerns on how to deal with financial firms deemed “too big to fail.” And she said that with the Dodd—Shelby talks over she would now support sending the bill to the floor for debate.

Mr. Dodd said he and Mr. Shelby had been engaged in productive talks.

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