Senate Democrats delay cloture vote, work on a way forward

Senate Democrats delayed a vote to end debate on the financial regulatory reform bill because they didn't have enough support.

The Senate recessed Wednesday afternoon and Democrats headed into a caucus meeting – postponing a scheduled 2 p.m. vote – to work out a strategy and a way forward, a senior Democratic aide said. 

At least one Senate Democrat – Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.) – said she wouldn't vote for cloture at this point, probably leaving Democrats without the 60 votes they need to move forward. 

Although the bill has "overwhelming" support of the Democratic caucus, one or two members still have concerns, said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

On Tuesday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said today he may not be able to support cloture because he didn't get votes on his amendments. Harkin went to the Senate floor last night to offer his provisions but was asked by Reid to hold off. Harkin, Reid and a handful of other Democrats then huddled about how to proceed.

Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) hasn't returned to the Senate after his primary loss last night, but Reid is confident he won't be needed, Manley said.  

The bill has the backing of Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), the only Republican to publicly support ending debate on the measure. 

It's likely the disagreement is over what Democratic amendments will be considered down the home stretch if the Senate votes to end debate.

The Senate is scheduled to return at 3:15 p.m. A cloture vote is still possible for late Wednesday.

Reid told reporters Tuesday that several Republicans had told him they would vote to end debate and wrap up work on the final amendments, aiming for a vote on final passage Friday.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) said after emerging from the meeting that leaders assured holdouts that some outstanding issues could be resolved when the Senate and House bills are merged. 

"I'm not sure if it was Senator Reid or Senator Dodd, but they reminded people that there will be a conference and some of these issues could, at least conceivably, be dealt with during that process," he said. "So this maybe isn't the last shot to revisit [their] particular issues."

Earlier Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged his colleagues to vote against the bill because it expands the size of the federal government.

Jordan Fabian contributed to this story.