Sen. Richard Shelby will push his bill overhauling financial regulation through whatever means available to him, the Senate Banking Committee chairman suggested Thursday as the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a spending bill incorporating his measure.
"We will have two trains running here," the Alabama Republican said, referring to the Appropriations Committee advancing his measure and the version of his bill passed by his own Banking Committee.
"And we're open to discussions with the Democrats ... and I hope this will show we're serious about this, " Shelby added.
Including the financial reform measure in the $21 billion fiscal 2016 financial services appropriations bill is effectively an attempt to ram it past Democrats, who have united against efforts to roll back provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
Shelby's bill, which would provide regulatory relief for community banks but also significantly overhaul the financial regulatory system, faces dim prospects either way.
But he suggested Thursday that there was some Democratic support for parts of the legislation, despite the aggressive stance by liberals against any changes to Dodd-Frank and White House veto threats.
"Maybe we're going to have some compromise come forth," Shelby said. "A lot of back channels going on."
Shelby's ploy to put his legislation in the appropriations bill was challenged in the committee by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who accused him of wanting to return to the pre-financial crisis regulatory structure.
"This is a big deal," Durbin said, noting that Shelby's bill made up more than half of the appropriations bill.
"Why are you doing this?" he asked Shelby. "You are the chairman of the authorizing committee."
Shelby's legislation passed the Banking Committee in May, but advanced on a party-line vote, with no Democrats supporting it.
To clear the Senate, the bill would need the support of enough Democrats to clear the 60-vote threshold needed to avoid a filibuster. None has indicated that they are interested in working with Shelby on a compromise, although in his comments Thursday he suggested that he was engaged in conversations with some.