Dems, GOP Could Be Near Agreement on Financial Reform, But Partisan Quibbling Continues

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Congress and Wall Street
Congress and Wall Street, bank, banks, finance, government, capitol dome

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

Republicans in the Senate appear to be easing off their opposition to the Democrats' financial reform legislation, though some obstacles still exist, such as questions over how to regulate the derivative market.

Just last week, all 41 Republicans said they were unified in their opposition to the legislation and asked for more bipartisan negotiations.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor on Tuesday that he was "heartened to hear that bipartisan talks have resumed in earnest," the Washington Post reports.

Democrats, in spite of the Republican opposition, have indicated they plan to move the bill forward within a matter of days. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), chair of the Senate Banking Committee, said on Monday that Democrats have had continuous discussions with Republicans, "but the talking is almost over and now we need to move and make decisions."

On Tuesday, Dodd took issue with the GOP's characterization that serious discussions have "resumed," the Huffington Post reports.

"Talk about taking credit," Dodd reportedly said. "It's like the rooster taking credit for the morning. I mean, this has been ongoing for people who have followed the thing."

And while Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Banking Committee, agreed that Democrats and Republicans were making progress in their negotiations, he said Republicans may want to spend more time on the matter than Democrats.

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"I think that it is an opportune time between now and Memorial Day to reach an agreement," Shelby said, according to the Huffington Post.

Republicans have specifically criticized a provision in the bill that would create a $50 billion bank liquidation fund, used to dismantle large banks after they fail. The fund would have been paid for by banks, but the GOP nevertheless called it a "bank bailout." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) over the weekend called the characterization "cynical and deceptive," but Democrats have still signaled some willingness to compromise over the provision.

Disagreement remains over how to regulate the derivative market. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), chair of the Senate Agricultural Committee is working on a bill that would require all derivative contracts to be approved by a clearinghouse and traded in public on exchanges. She plans to pass the bill in her committee today, the Washington Post reports. President Obama has said he will veto any financial reform bill that doesn't regulate the derivative market.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the top Republican in the Agricultural Committee, said he was so far displeased with Lincoln's bill, according to the Huffington Post.

"It is pretty far away from what we had agreed to," he said.

UPDATE: The Agricultural Committee on Wednesday passed the derivatives legislation.