I'm no longer worried about Blanche Lincoln's Section 716 proposal (i.e., the swaps desk spin-off). One way or another, it will get taken out. I'm satisfied on that front. I'm maintaining my earlier prediction that the Dems will end up stripping Section 716 in a post-cloture amendment. Lincoln's primary — in which she's facing a tough challenge from the left — is on Tuesday, and no one wants to take her legs out from under her at this point. So the best way to handle this is to let Gillibrand file her amendment to strike before Reid files cloture; vote for cloture with Lincoln's Section 716 language still in the bill (giving her the symbolic/media victory); and then after Lincoln's primary, vote on Gillibrand's amendment to strike — which would pass with 70 votes, at least. Everybody wins. The cloture vote is expected to be on Tuesday, which would put the vote on Gillibrand's amendment to strike on Wednesday or Thursday. They could also strip Section 716 in a post-cloture manager's amendment, but I think the Gillibrand amendment is the more likely path.

Fun fact: the Dodd bill requires 28 studies to be completed in the next 2 years. Sixteen of the studies have to be done within the first year after the bill is enacted. The GAO alone has to do 11 new studies. (Have fun!)

I don't think there's any way interchange survives conference. The ICBA, which represents community banks, lobbied heavily against Durbin's interchange amendment. Community banks wield an enormous amount of power in the House (community banks are in everyone's district), so interchange will probably be the first thing the House strips from the bill in conference. I also seriously doubt that Franken's rating agency amendment will survive conference. I haven't really decided how I feel about Franken's rating agency reform yet; I honestly just haven't thought about it enough.

I'm not entirely sure what's going to happen with the provision imposing a fiduciary duty on dealers when trading with pension  funds, endowments, or governmental entities. It's another provision that's just unworkable — among other problems, I'm pretty sure ERISA prohibits pension funds from transacting with fiduciaries (under the "party in interest" prohibition, I believe), so a fiduciary duty requirement would have the effect of barring pension funds from transacting with any dealers. Clearly, supporters of this provision have confused it with the issue of whether broker-dealers should have a fiduciary duty when giving investment advice. If this provision survives the Senate, it'll definitely get taken out in conference; I'm not too worried about that. But I don't know if it'll get stripped out in the Senate. I suspect it won't at this point.


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