GOP retreats, abandons blocking of banking regulation

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Greed and Banks

Popular opinion drives the elected representatives for a change.

WASHINGTON – Republicans set the stage Wednesday to lift their blockade against legislation to tighten regulations on Wall Street, opening a road to likely passage for the most sweeping rewrite since the Great Depression.

GOP lawmakers said they would now try to change the bill on the Senate floor. Democrats said the Republicans simply had realized they were losing the battle for public opinion.

Earlier in the day, Republican senators had blocked the beginning of floor debate for a third straight day, contending they needed more time to try to work out compromises with Democrats in private talks. Republicans huddled in the late afternoon on their next step.

There had been signs that some Republicans were growing weary of continuing to block the bill after President Barack Obama and other Democrats accused them of siding with Wall Street, an institution that rivals Congress in its unpopularity.

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said on Tuesday he would vote to let the bill advance to the Senate floor if bipartisan talks were no longer progressing.

“I have an idea of how much time it takes to cut a deal,” he said. “If that’s not possible, then we go on.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said Wednesday, “There’s been immense pressure bottled up inside the Republican caucus through these last three votes. A lot of their members have been very deeply unhappy with the direction their leadership has been taking them. Better heads prevailed.”

Obama, winding up a Midwest tour promoting the legislation, said he was pleased the debate would proceed.

“The time for reform is now,” the president said

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