Sen. Collins pledges to block Democratic Wall Street bill

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced after meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Monday that she will vote to filibuster a Democratic Wall Street reform bill.

Her announcement hurts Democratic chances of moving financial reform legislation through the Senate this week.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that he planned to bring the legislation to the floor this week, but Collins’s stance means that Democrats will likely not have the 60 votes needed to begin floor debate.

Collins said she and Geithner found common ground on many areas of financial regulatory reform and urged Democrats to spend several more weeks negotiating the measure.

Collins said it was unlikely that her concerns could be addressed within the next few days so that Reid could stick to his schedule.

“I see no reason why a bipartisan bill could not be put together over the next few weeks,” Collins said.

Collins said she told Geithner of her belief “that we can work out a truly bipartisan bill that will strengthen our financial system.”

Collins opposes the creation of a $50 billion orderly liquidation fund to wind down financial institutions that pose a threat to the financial system. She said the creation of such a fund would create a “moral hazard,” emboldening banks to engage in risky trading practices.

Geithner told Collins that the administration does not support the fund, which Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) added to the legislation.
 
The Maine lawmaker believes the best way to reduce the systemic risk posed by large financial institutions is to raise their capital requirements, so that financial bets could not be as leveraged as in the past.

“It makes sense to take more time to try to work out these incredibly complex issues and produce a bill that could [get] 70 votes on the Senate floor, [rather] than proceeding with a highly-divisive partisan bill that may not solve the problem and would run into a buzzsaw of opposition,” Collins said.

Collins said Reid's schedule is unrealistic.

"I don't think we can address these concerns in three days but I see no reason why we could not negotiate a bill in the next three or four weeks."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) worked to keep his party unified against the bill, which Democrats are pushing to pass.

All 41 Senate Republicans signed a letter to Reid urging him to reopen bipartisan negotiations on the legislation.

The unified Republican front puts pressure on Democratic leaders to make revisions to Dodd’s legislation.

Dodd said earlier Monday he hoped to reach a broad agreement with Republicans this week in order to move forward with his legislation, but Collins’s announcement hinders that.

And President Barack Obama is making a hard sell for the bill. He will travel to Cooper Union in New York City on Thursday to discuss regulatory reform in Wall Street's backyard.

— Michael O’Brien contributed to this article.