Corker blames healthcare pressure for financial reform breakdown

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) blamed the pressure to finish healthcare for the breakdown in talks over a bipartisan financial reform bill.

Corker, who'd been negotiated with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on a financial reform package, wistfully lamented Dodd's decision to end negotiations and push forward with his own bill, which he'll debut on Monday.

"Never did I realize that healthcare would affect financial regulation," Corker said in a press conference Thursday morning. "I knew that tensions would exist, but I never expected it would affect the calendar the way that it did."

Dodd and Corker had partnered in early February after talks between Dodd and the top Republican member of the committee, Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), had broken down.

The Dodd-Shelby negotiations had reached an impasse over the proposed creation of a new consumer financial protection agency. Corker said Thursday that he and Dodd "were there" in reaching agreement on the agency, hinting that the current impasse might have been related to other issues.

"There has not been an issue yet -- one impediment -- that we have not been able to overcome," Corker said.

But the Tennessee Republican blamed political pressure for ending talks.

"There's no question that the White House, politics, and healthcare have kept us from getting to the goal line," he said. "No question."