Senate stalls in financial reform bill debates

US Senator Harry Reid

Senator Harry Reid has failed to get cloture. Image from Wikimedia Commons

In order to head off any attempts at a filibuster, the U.S. Senate has tried to invoke cloture to wrap up debate.  The attempt was unsuccessful, and intense debate is expected to continue unabated for some time. It may take longer than previously thought to get the financial reform bill passed and onto the desk of the President.

Reid fails to get cloture

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called for a vote of cloture in order to head off debate over the financial reform bill, according to Reuters.  The vote, which requires a two-thirds majority, failed 57 to 42.  Cloture is a feature of parliamentary procedure and used to be incredibly rare. The U.S. Senate is still debating portions of the financial reform bill, and the potential for filibuster remains, so Senators may want to get personal loans for some cots and blankets.  Cloture has very specific conditions on how it can be brought about.

Haute Cloture

Cloture is a French word, and the word and meaning is derived from the same Latin word English derived the word closure from, clausura.  In terms of parliamentary procedure, it means that after a motion calling for cloture is passed, only a limited amount of debate can take place afterward.  For the Senate, only 30 more hours of debate total can take place, and no Senator may speak for more than an hour. It is a way to stop pointless and long winded debate and is the way a filibuster is stopped.

Senate unable to close debate

The row that had broken out concerned two amendments, one from Chris Dodd and one from Blanche Lincoln.  Lincoln’s amendment would prevent certain trades by banks, which Dodd is not in favor of.  Republicans oppose the amendments under debate, and the outright dropping of the Volcker rule was barely avoided.  The financial reform bill is still not finished, and it will some time before a final version is ready.