Grassley hesitant to support Wall Street bill

One of the four Senate Republicans to help Democrats pass their financial regulatory reform overhaul indicated Friday that he has serious doubts about the final version.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), through a spokeswoman, told the Wall Street Journal that he has concerns about one of the funding sources for the sweeping legislation:

If Mr. Grassley decides to vote against the bill, Democrats would be left with little margin for error when they bring the bill to the Senate floor, which could happen as soon as next week. Mr. Grassley was one of four Republicans to support an earlier version of the bill when it narrowly passed the Senate in May.

Democrats and White House officials likely need the support of at least two Republicans to secure the 60 votes necessary to block a potential filibuster.

[snip]

Mr. Grassley’s spokeswoman, Jill Kozeny, said he is “very concerned about the precedent of using the FDIC fees both as a credit to the FDIC and to count as [a way to pay for the bill], and it’s his view that TARP money ought to be used to pay down the debt and not for more spending.”

Ms. Kozeny didn’t say whether Mr. Grassley had made up his mind on how to vote.

The Senate is expected to make its final vote on the conference report next week, which would send the legislation to President Barack Obama’s desk. The financial reform effort is one of the White House’s top legislative priorities. 

With the death of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and the appointment of his replacement up in the air, the Senate vote on the Wall Street bill has become uncertain. 

The House passed the conference report just before Congress broke for the July 4 recess last week after the conference was reopened to alter a $19 billion bank tax that key Republicans, such as Susan Collins (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.), said could prevent them from voting for the bill.

Collins had said she is now leaning toward supporting the bill, and Brown said that he is taking the recess period to study the final language. 

Cross-posted from Blog Briefing Room.