The Senate closed the door -- for now -- on an open debate about financial regulatory reform, as Republicans successfully banded together Monday to block a motion to publicly discuss Wall Street legislation.
Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson hopped across the aisle to join the GOP in its filibuster, and in a late move, Sen. Harry Reid also joined the GOP, switching sides so he alone could call for another procedural vote in the future.
Pundits are divided over whether the vote was a short-term win for Republicans or a long-term play toward enacting substantial bipartisan reform.
Nelson's vote against the motion means Republicans will likely claim that both sides of the aisle have issues with finance reform, Annie Lowrey blogs for the Washington Independent. "Republicans will tout this as an extraordinary victory demonstrating bipartisan opposition to moving forward on financial regulation until the bill is tried, tested and sorted," she writes.
Conservative Hot Air blogger Allahpundit calls the vote “muscle flexing on both sides.” For Democrats, it was a chance to test whether some Republicans were ready to “cave,” Allahpundit writes. Meanwhile, the GOP “got to show their base that they’re willing to stand up against bailouts, all the while knowing that negotiations will continue this week.”
The GOP may have had the win on paper, but Reid scored big points for the left with his politically savvy vote against, Chris Weigant writes for the Huffington Post. Reid's vote 'no' may seem "counterintuitive" but is actually an aggressive move that shows Republicans that the Senate Dems won't accept a weak bill rife with Republican exceptions -- and that they've learned a thing or two from the health reform debacle, Weigant writes. "By refusing to back down, and refusing to compromise (read: water the bill down and add loopholes for Wall Street) with Republicans, Reid is showing real strength and real leadership," he argues.
Despite "political posturing" that has the GOP jockeying to filibuster an eager left, Republicans are too smart to block passage of a bill that has so much popular support, John Dickerson blogs for Slate. The GOP's public image is one of "scenes and sound bites that take place outside the negotiating room" -- but in reality, the right will likely work readily with Democrats to hammer away at a compromise to fight back against Wall Street fat cats, Dickerson writes. "Don't worry: Legislation is still likely to pass. Despite efforts to make this vote dramatic, the real drama (and work) is going on behind closed doors," he blogs.
Those negotiations -- not the "zero drama" vote that happened Monday -- will show who's really got the power in the Wall Street debate, Andrew Leonard blogs for Salon. Dems voted yes and Republicans filibustered "as expected," Leonard writes, but it's the aftermath of Monday's vote -- read: the back-door deals -- that will be proof positive of political influence on the Hill. "If Democrats want to play hardball, they'll make no concessions to the GOP, and call another cloture vote in a couple of days. Then we'll find out exactly how intransigent Republicans intend to be," he writes.