Robert Byrd is dead, and the financial reform bill might not be far behind. Byrd’s demise comes just days after the Senate and House had hammered out a final version of the legislation, and dashes hopes that it could be voted on this week. West Virginia’s Democratic governor will almost certainly select a Democrat to fill Byrd’s seat, but that’s unlikely to happen before the Fourth of July recess.
Byrd didn’t vote on the Senate’s original version of Dodd-Frank, but that vote is more crucial now, because Scott Brown and Susan Collins, two of four Republicans to back the bill, are upset about the last-minute addition of a $19 billion tax on big banks. “I cannot support any bill that raises taxes,” Brown told the LA Times yesterday, while Collins simply said she was “taking a look” at it. Without them, one analyst says, "Democrats are going to have to go back and count noses."