* Lincoln optimistic regulatory reform bill will pass
* Chambliss says he has "issues with her bill"
* Agriculture draft to be included in larger Senate bill
By Christopher Doering and Charles Abbott
WASHINGTON, April 20 A sweeping regulatory
reform bill introduced by Senator Blanche Lincoln received
solid backing from fellow Democrats on Tuesday despite intense
opposition from a top Republican, one day before the measure
faces a vote by the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The bill, which Lincoln and other regulatory overhaul
supporters tout as the strongest reform package to date, would
toughen oversight of the $450 trillion over-the-counter
derivatives market by requiring most swaps to trade on
regulated exchanges and pass through clearinghouses.
It also would require banks to spin off swaps desks if they
want the protection of federal deposit insurance or access to
Federal Reserve discount window and it would exempt some
commercial end users from mandatory swap clearing.
The Agriculture Committee, chaired by Lincoln, has 12
Democrats and nine Republicans.
Lincoln, who spent much of Tuesday joining other Democrats
drumming up support on Capitol Hill, said she was confident the
legislation would pass her committee despite objections by its
top Republican, Saxby Chambliss.
"We didn't set it up to fail," Lincoln told reporters when
asked if she had enough votes for approval.
If it does pass the Senate Agriculture Committee, the
measure will be included in a broader regulatory reform plan
from Christopher Dodd, the Democratic chairman of the Senate
Republicans strongly oppose several provisions in Lincoln's
bill, including the spin off of swap desks. They say the end
user exemption is too narrow.
"Any number of provisions like that are pretty
objectionable," said Chambliss with a laugh. "There are a lot
of issues with her bill."
Chambliss said he was optimistic Democratic amendments or
changes by Lincoln herself would transform the bill into
something they could support.
But a Democratic staffer said that Lincoln was unlikely to
make any major changes before the mark-up.
Efforts to overhaul the tattered regulatory fabric have
gained momentum in recent weeks amid concerns over a financial
crisis in Greece and a fraud charge against Goldman Sachs Group
"As each week goes by ... the wind is at our back. What you
don't regulate will burn you ... the American taxpayer," said
Michael Greenberger, a law professor at the University of
Maryland and a former official at the Commodity Futures Trading
The Senate is expected to debate on a broad financial
reform package next week. Democrats are seeking at least one
Republican vote to overcome procedural blocks to the financial
reform bill and are trying to build on widespread anti-bank
sentiment ahead of the November mid-term elections.
Republicans are trying to protect Wall Street "by
doing one thing: saying 'no' and stopping reform and stopping
this legislation at all costs," said Senator Robert Casey. "The
American people are watching carefully about whose side you're
on," the Democrat warned.
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)