Stalled after months of partisan bickering, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) plans push his own vision of financial reform through the Senate on the fast track.
Dodd will unveil his proposed bill on Monday while setting the table for a committee and possibly floor vote before Congress recesses for Passover and Easter on March 26. The legislation is expected to address issues including "too big to fail" financial institutions and the establishment of an independent consumer protection regulation entity. The latter is massively popular with Democrats but a significant sticking point among Republicans.
Partially because of a divide over the consumer protection agency idea, Dodd abandoned what had been efforts to construct a bipartisan bill with Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), a fellow member of Dodd's committee. This is likely the lawmaker's last attempt at significant legislation in his 30+ year career as Dodd, who saw slumping poll numbers in his home state throughout 2009, will not seek reelection in November.
"Over the last few months, Banking Committee members have worked together to try and produce a consensus package," Dodd said this week. "Together, we have made significant progress and resolved many of the items, but a few outstanding issues remain...And we have reached a point where bringing the bill to the full committee is the best course of action."
Dodd's attempt to single-handedly shepherd such a massive reform effort likely will raise some eyebrows. After all, Dodd was one of the key figures tied to the controversial "Friends of Angelo" program, which referred to Countywide Financial CEO/Founder Angelo Mozilo and a program where several policy-makers received what appeared to be significant special treatment in loan terms. A congressional ethics panel found there was not enough credible evidence to take any action against Dodd. Mozilo served as a virtual poster-boy of the subprime lending meltdown that helped sink his company, the housing industry and, subsequently the economy. Dodd received skewering from Democrats and the GOP alike during those earliest days of the financial crisis as he was largely viewed as an absentee committee chairman/lawmaker on Capitol Hill because he spent several months out of town on an ill-fated campaign to garner the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008. This is not to mention that Dodd, in dollar amount, routinely ranked among the top five congressional lawmaker recipients of campaign contributions from the financial and real estate sector through the last decade.