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GOP claims votes to block fin. reform

From NBC's Ken Strickland
If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tries to bring the financial regulatory reform bill to the floor this week -- as it's currently written -- Republicans have the votes to block it, a senior GOP leadership aide said today. But Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd essentially dared Republicans to do it.

The Republican aide cited the letter sent to Reid last week signed by all 41 Senators saying they "are united in our opposition" to the bill. (Democrats will need 60 votes to start debate.) Although the letter was not explicit that Republicans would filibuster, the aide maintained the votes are there to do so.

At a news conference today, Dodd was skeptical. "The words about filibusters are not in that letter," Dodd said. Pointing to the fraud case pending against Goldman Sachs, he added, "I don't really believe Republican members want to be in a position where they're talking about filibustering a bill that would allow us to address those issues."

In an apparent effort to secure at least one Republican vote needed, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will meet this afternoon with moderate Republican Susan Collins. Her office confirmed today the senator will vote against "the motion to proceed" to the legislation.

The most vocal criticism of the bill involves a $50-billion fund -- paid for by the financial industry -- to wind down failing banks. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said it would "institutionalize" government bailouts.

Dodd said the idea for the fund came from Republicans, calling it "the irony of ironies." The White House is lukewarm to notion of the fund, but Dodd says the administration has not asked him to take it out of the bill.