McConnell lacks support to block Wall Street reform bill

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senator blocking Trump's Intel nominee Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE (Ky.) does not have enough solid commitments from GOP lawmakers to block consideration of a Democratic Wall Street reform bill.

McConnell has circulated a letter within the GOP conference that would have Republicans pledge to block a motion to proceed to a financial regulatory reform bill unless Democrats agree to reopen it for bipartisan negotiations.

But McConnell has fallen short of the 41 signatures he needs to send Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTrump presses GOP to change Senate rules Only thing Defense’s UFO probe proves is power of political favors Nevada Democrat accused of sexual harassment reconsiders retirement: report MORE (D-Nev.) a clear signal.

So far, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Overnight Health Care: House leaves out ObamaCare fix from funding bill | Trump appointees pushed to end teen pregnancy program | Key Dem raises concerns over potential CDC pick MORE (R-Maine), a crucial swing vote, has declined to sign the letter, according to a Republican source.

Collins said that she supports some of the provisions in the bill but has concerns about the way Democrats have handled it, specifically their decision to cut off talks with Republican negotiators before a bipartisan deal was reached.

But Collins has declined to pledge in a public letter that she would vote to filibuster the reform bill unless Democrats make amends.

It is unclear if any other Republicans senators have declined to sign the letter.

Collins’s stance is a significant setback to McConnell, who wants to force Democrats to return to the negotiating table.

A senior Democratic aide said that Reid will go forward with his plan to bring Wall Street reform to the floor next week.

A senior Republican lawmaker confirmed that McConnell had circulated a letter among fellow Republicans promising that the entire GOP conference would vote against a motion to proceed to the reform bill unless Democrats resume negotiations.

“The only way we can get in the room is to show Democrats that they can’t ram a bill through the Senate,” said the lawmaker.

A senior GOP aide framed it in a more benign way.

“It’s a letter urging a bipartisan approach to a final financial regulation bill,” said the aide.

Collins may change her mind but without her support, Republicans have significantly less leverage to persuade Democrats to redraft the bill advanced by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).

McConnell has taken a strong stance against Dodd’s bill because he argues it would enable future bailouts of massive financial institutions.

“Its authors claim that the bill gives the government the authority to wind down failing firms with no exposure to the taxpayer,” McConnell said in a speech Wednesday. “But as a factual matter, the bill creates bailout funds, authorizes bailouts, allows for back-door bailouts from the FDIC, Treasury and the Fed, and even expands the scope of future bailouts."

A GOP aide speculated that McConnell may soon approach Reid with his suggestions for improving the bill, even though McConnell is in a weaker position than if he had the votes to block it.

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerConscience protections for health-care providers should be standard Pension committee must deliver on retirement promise Dem super PAC launches ad defending Donnelly on taxes MORE (N.Y.), vice chairman of the Democratic conference and a member of the Banking Committee, said he would welcome hearing McConnell’s proposals.