A second financial reform cloture vote failed to proceed in the last 24 hours. At 4:30 PM on Tuesday, Senate Democrats could not bring in the 60 votes needed to overcome a mainly Republican filibuster to halt debate on legislation that would overhaul the banking industry. The motion failed 57 to 41. Senator Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, voted with the GOP against cloture for a second time.
The removal of a provision that would have financially favored stock market mogul and Nebraska native Warren Buffett from the bill led to a sudden change of heart. A Nelson aide told the Huffington Post on Monday, “He was on board until today and the only thing that changed was the removal of that provision.”
I asked Mr. Nelson on Tuesday about his “no” votes, and if they were anyhow connected to conversations with Mr. Buffett.
“I have not had any conversations with Warren Buffett. I have talked to people who work for Warren Buffett, but I have not had direct conversations with him,” he said. “The Buffett issue has nothing to do with my vote. I just want to make sure this doesn’t apply to Main Street with unintended or intended consequences. I think its important to get it right as to the derivatives, so that you don’t end up with a lawsuit based on the constitutionality of the bill.”
While Mr. Nelson was accused of brokering a Medicaid deal for his state of Nebraska during the health care debate in exchange for his vote, he told reporters today he is not involved in any of the brokering financial reform regulatory legislation. “I’m not brokering [the deal]. I’m just as anxious as anyone else. I have difficulty voting for cloture, when I don’t know what the product is going to be or at least the product going to the floor. It’s a moving target and we need to get it to be more stationary so we get to see what it is.”