Labor leader to meet with senators ahead of financial bill vote

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will work the room ahead of a 4:30 p.m. vote on the financial regulatory reform bill Tuesday.

Senate Democrats attempted to move forward with debate by holding a cloture vote Monday evening, but Republicans unanimously opposed the bill, denying Democrats of the 60 votes they needed to approve the measure.

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Democrats are planning to hold continuous votes on the motion to proceed, which are expected to fail, seeking to cast Republicans as opponents of the reform package who cast their lot with large Wall Street banks.

"It is unbelievable that two years, hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of lost jobs later, Congress still hasn't acted to rein in Wall Street to protect Main Street," Trumka said in a statement. "Yesterday all 41 Republican senators stood united in their opposition to debate a Wall Street accountability bill, protecting the big bank lobby."

The AFL-CIO has been one of the most outspoken proponents of the current effort to place additional regulations on the financial industry.

The labor group has urged lawmakers to vote for the Senate bill, which contains restrictions on the trading of shadowy financial products called derivatives, rules on how to wind down large failed firms and a new consumer protection agency, among other provisions. 

Republicans have said they support the reform effort, but say they don't want to move forward on the bill to additional time for bipartisan discussion to fix flaws they see in it. 

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) voted with the Republicans to block formal debate.

Democrats have pressed the GOP to begin debate, saying that problems can be fixed while the legislation is being considered on the Senate floor. 

"Let us hope that today all senators will listen to the voices of the people who have lost jobs, homes and hope and vote to begin debate on Wall Street reform," Trumka added.