Like dogs and cats, each of the two current major political parties argued over Monday's vote not to vote on the Democrats' program of broad financial reforms.
Classic Washington. traditional election year. Everybody wants it, but nobody wants to do it the way anyone else wants to do it.
Here in their own words is how a few of the feuding parties sought to make their case.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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President Obama's statement, as provided by the White House
Statement by Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee
I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans voted in a block against allowing a public debate on Wall Street reform to begin. Some of these Senators may believe that this obstruction is a good political strategy, and others may see delay as an....
...opportunity to take this debate behind closed doors, where financial industry lobbyists can water down reform or kill it altogether. But the American people can’t afford that.
A lack of consumer protections and a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly brought our economy to its knees, and helped cause the pain that has left millions of Americans without jobs and without homes. The reform that both parties have been working on for a year would prevent a crisis like this from happening again, and I urge the Senate to get back to work and put the interests of the country ahead of party.
Statement by Chairman Tim Kaine of the Democratic National Committee
Today, Senate Democrats stood with Wall Street by attempting to move forward with a bill that creates a permanent bailout for irresponsible financial firms, institutionalizes ‘too-big-to-fail,’ and does nothing to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, organizations that were at the heart of the financial crisis.
But Republicans unanimously stood up to Harry Reid because today’s cloture vote wasn’t a vote against financial reform, it was a vote for a bipartisan bill, something President Obama has no interest in pursuing. Reid took the lead of President Obama who instructed Senate Democrats to cut off all bipartisan negotiations on financial regulation reform.
So instead of working with Republicans to responsibly reform financial regulations, Harry Reid decided that it’s better to have no bill at all, creating a partisan side show instead of holding Wall Street accountable.
Statement by Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts
Today, Senate Republicans blocked Wall Street reform. In the process, they sent an unmistakable signal that they are beholden to Wall Street money, special interests and their lobbyists. They also showed they are willing to oppose Wall Street reform even if the result is to leave in place unfair risks and results for taxpayers, Main Street businesses, and American families.
Not one Republican stepped forward to do the right thing for the American people. Instead, Senate Republicans voted to preserve a status quo that nearly destroyed our economy and caused undue hardship for millions of families, all so Wall Street can continue the very type of risky behavior that resulted in the crisis in the first place.
It is unfortunate that Americans must continue to worry that big banks are gambling with their retirement savings. They must now continue to worry that the fine print on their credit card or mortgage loan could lead to financial ruin. And they must now continue to worry that once again the economy could come crashing down around them while we must wait for meaningful Wall Street reform.
Senate Republicans could have relieved these concerns and moved Wall Street reform forward, but they instead chose obstruction and delay.
Fortunately, Democrats in Congress will continue to fight for Wall Street reforms that will hold big banks accountable, create strong new consumer financial protections, and end the risky financial practices that continue to put the American economy at risk. I hope that in the coming days, Republicans will overcome their loyalty to special interests and vote with Democrats for a final bill that will protect the well-being of all Americans.
Statement by Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
I was hopeful that both sides would have reached a bi-partisan agreement by today that protects the safety of our financial system, as well as the interests of taxpayers and consumers. My vote is not a vote against financial reform; instead it’s a vote to insist that the parties continue bi-partisan negotiations to come up with a commonsense bill we can all be proud of.
As currently written, the legislation contains loopholes that could leave the taxpayers on the hook for future bailouts of Wall Street. This bill would also hurt jobs in Massachusetts, including small start-up businesses that did not contribute to the economic crisis and are the job-creating engines that will get our economy moving again.
With millions of Americans affected by the financial crisis, this issue is too important to play political games with or rush through Congress along party lines. There are serious problems with this legislation that must be fixed and I remain hopeful that a bi-partisan agreement can be reached soon.
The vote this afternoon is one more of a record number of ‘no motions’ offered by the Majority Leader saying no to more amendments, no to more debate, and no to checks and balances on a runaway government in Washington.
He’s got the record in saying no to more amendments, no to more debates, and no to more checks and balances on what the Congress is doing: 141 times the Majority Leader has filed cloture on the same day a measure came up—that’s simply another ‘no motion.’ It says no to more amendments, no to more debates, no to more checks and balances on the legislation that Congress is considering.
This should be a different situation; it’s a very important bill. It’s the financial regulation of this country—this country that produces 25 percent of all the money in the world every year. Twenty-five percent of the wealth is created by this country for those who are privileged to live here.
One would think that we would be as careful as we could in getting this done. For a long time on this bill, many members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle have been working on it carefully and in a bipartisan way. So why would we bring another one of these record-setting ‘no motions’ up today to vote on? ####
Photo: Associated Press; Head shots of Steele, Kaine, Brown, Alexander provided by their offices.