Dodd, Shelby signal progress in financial regulatory reform talks

The Democrat chiefly heading the Senate's financial regulatory reform effort said Thursday negotiations over the legislation's toughest provisions were "going great."

While Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) acknowledged Democrats and Republicans still had a number of issues to resolve, he stressed the process was moving ahead efficiently, meaning a bill could reach his panel for a markup in early January.

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"What these meetings are devoid of is ideology, which is very very encouraging to me," Dodd told reporters this afternoon. "My hope is when we get back in January, that we'll -- depending on how the progress is moving -- schedule a markup on the committee. "I hope by that time we've come to some real consensus on as many issues as possible, all if possible, and move forward with the bill."

Four Democrats and four Republicans have huddled together on financial reform for weeks now, hoping to tighten the bill's regulatory authority and better define its consumer protections.

While the House addressed those concerns and passed their version of the bill earlier this month, Senate lawmakers remain deadlocked on many of the legitlation's signature provisions -- especially the proposed consumer protection agency, which some Republicans feel is too bureaucratic and far reaching to be effective.

But both parties' lawmakers on Thursday expressed confidence they could resolve those key differences soon.

"We continue to work together, our staffs, we're moving from concepts to language and so forth," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Banking Committee. "I think we have an opportunity between now and January, over the holidays, to come closer together. I hope we will in a bipartisan way."

"We're not there yet," the senator added. "If we can do this, we'll have a substantive, meaningful bill. our attitude is positive... and we want to keep it that way."