UPDATE 4:04 p.m. -- The cots did the trick. With the specter of an all-night session before them, Republicans have decided to allow the Wall Street reform bill to move to the floor for debate and amendment, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
* * * * *
Harry on Wednesday upped the pressure on Republicans who are blocking debate on Wall Street reform from going forward. Shortly before the third vote this week to break a filibuster, Reid charged that it was "anti-American" to attempt to alter the bill through closed-door negotiations rather than hashing it out on the Senate floor.
"All the talk by Republicans about wanting to do something about this bill before it gets on the floor is really anti-Senate, anti-American," Reid said. "It appears they're more concerned about taking care of the fat cats on Wall Street."
The GOP beat back the attempt to break the filibuster 56-42, with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) voting with the Republicans for the third straight time. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the no. 2 Democrat in the Senate, told reporters to prepare for a long evening Wednesday as Democrats prepare to force repeated votes into the night.
"Americans are counting on us to get results, so we are going to do our jobs and keep the Senate open all night - we will vote again and again, until Republicans stop protecting Wall Street and join us in moving forward to an open, public debate about how to hold Wall Street accountable," said Reid spokesman Jim Manley.
"We're rolling out the cots," a senior Democratic leadership aide added, noting that the sergeant at arms will be instructed to require the presence of senators on the floor for "live quorum calls." Democrats will also continuously ask for unanimous consent to move to debate on the Wall Street bill, forcing the GOP to object at all hours of the night.
A top GOP aide told HuffPost Hill Tuesday that Republicans know that once the bill hits the floor, it will be difficult to amend, so the strategy is to get as much as can be done before it goes to the floor.
"Democrats are not going to give us a legitimate opportunity to make serious changes to the bill once we proceed to it," he said. "So our best opportunity to improve it is before it hits the floor. Is it worth it to have a worse bill just to avoid a few PR hits?"
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) also hit Republicans for opposing a public debate, saying that the public deserves to hear each side's arguments. "I believe in an open process," he said.
Reid has been searching the past two days for ways to describe the Republican move. On Tuesday, Reid charged that the GOP strategy was "anti-Senatorial" and "anti-legislative."
Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) reiterated today that he was willing to vote to move forward to amendments if negotiations between Dodd and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) stalled.
Shelby, too, said that he knew, in the end, the bill will move to the floor.
"We're going to try to see if there's any way to bridge any gap between us and the Democrats on the consumer agency. If it's not, we'll have to go the next step. You know, all roads ultimately lead to the floor one way or the other," he said.
Shelby said he thought Dodd would drop the $50 billion fund to resolve failed banks. "We have made great strides in the section dealing with too big to fail," Shelby said, saying both he and Dodd have made "some assurances."
"If we reach an impasse on the consumer agency and we haven't resolved [derivatives], we'll have to move forward," he said.