Cantwell says vote on financial bill contingent on amendment vote

One of two Democratic senators to vote against cloture on the financial regulatory reform bill said Wednesday that she can only support moving forward if senators vote on her amendment.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said that a key amendment deal-breaker for her vote. It was not put up for a vote before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to invoke cloture Wednesday afternoon, which failed.

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"They were trying to get cloture and hoped they could move forward," she told reporters. "Without this amendment, it's pretty hard to do that."

Asked if her vote for cloture was contingent on having a vote on the amendment, she said "yes."

Cantwell is seeking a vote on an amendment she co-sponsored with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) that aims to toughen enforcement of complex financial derivatives, said John Diamond, Cantwell spokesman.

Cantwell said that the measure is crucial to the reform effort.

"This one is so critical to making sure there is clarity in the marketplace that I couldn't move forward without a vote on it," she said.

The Washington senator told reporters that the Democratic leadership did not say why they did not call a vote on the amendment.

Cantwell is also co-sponsoring an amendment with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would reinstate the Glass-Steagall rules that separate commercial and investment banking. The rules were repealed in 1999, an event which has become a lightning rod for criticism of Wall Street.

The cloture vote was held open for more than half an hour after it became clear that Democrats did not have the votes to pass the measure, but Cantwell said that was because of the absence of Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who was attending to a family matter, and not vote-wrangling with her.

Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) was the only other Democrat to vote against the cloture motion.

Cross-posted to Blog Briefing Room

Silla Brush contributed to this post