Dodd in a race to pass financial overhaul measure before leaving for Easter

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is expected next week to unveil a long-awaited financial overhaul package that will set off a race to pass the measure before lawmakers leave for Easter break.

Dodd has been locked in negotiations with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member on the panel. But Dodd said on Friday that it was unclear whether senators would be able to strike a bipartisan deal, despite months of backroom negotiations.

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A proposal under discussion on the contentious issue of consumer financial protection has drawn deep concerns from liberal House and Senate lawmakers.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) panned the compromise proposal of placing a consumer protection office within the Federal Reserve. Frank said he could be open to placing in the Treasury Department an independent consumer protection office.

The Obama administration originally proposed to set up a standalone Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) to regulate home loans, credit cards, payday loans and other financial products. The House passed legislation in December that included the CFPA proposal, but the original proposal ran into stiff resistance in the Senate.

Dodd has maintained that he wants an office with an independent head, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Dodd said the office should have an independent budget, autonomy to write regulatory rules and the ability to enforce the rules.

He has said he is less concerned about where the office is housed than about its other powers.