Sen. Reed hints which GOP senators might break ranks on reg reform

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) floated the names of Senate GOP colleagues on Friday who might break ranks on financial regulatory reform.

Reed, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, hinted that Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Judd Gregg (N.H.) might be among the Republicans who could end up voting with Democrats to advance financial regulatory reform legislation.

"I hope that, among the Republicans, there are some people who want to support consumers and the American public," Reed said during an appearance on MSNBC. "We've had some consideration and cooperation.by people like Judd Gregg, Bob Corker, Susan Collins, and there are others. And I just hope we have those votes."

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Republicans' Senate leader, Mitch McConnell (Ky.), has led the charge against the financial bill, calling it a piece of legislation that perpetuates government bailout of financial institutions.

To that end, McConnell circulated a letter to Republican colleagues asking them to block a motion to proceed with the legislation, a letter which seems to have fallen short of the 41 GOP votes McConnell would need to sustain a filibuster against the bill. Collins, one of the senators who Reed suggested might flip, was among those to withhold her signature.

Still, senators like Gregg and Corker have been vocal about their opposition to many elements of the bill, and Gregg has lashed out at the White House for its role in the debate, accusing them of forcing the process of regulatory reform along too quickly.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) filed his bill with the full Senate on Thursday evening, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has signaled his intention to bring it up to begin debate as soon as next week.

Reid's timeline sets up a key procedural vote on a motion to proceed that might be seen as a test for Republicans, staking out which -- if any -- GOP senators are willing to break ranks.

Reed stepped up the rhetorical pressure on his colleagues on Friday, characterizing the choice in that vote as being between the middle class, or siding with Wall Street interests.

"I think, frankly, this vote is going to be very telling," Reed said. "Those who vote against moving forward to debate this bill...are saying we support the big banks right now, which are making a huge amount of money."