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Fin. reform hangs in the balance; GOP votes needed

The House and Senate members who wrote the latest version of the financial regulatory reform bill will reconvene today at 5:00 pm ET today. This meeting -- called "a conference" -- is in response to concerns raised by some Senate Republicans, who had earlier voted for the Senate version of the bill, but are unhappy with the new version. (This version represented the merger of the House and Senate bills.)

This is an unusual move in Congress, since the bill was in the final stage, on the verge of going to each chamber for passage this week. Democratic leaders and the White House had touted the bill's passage before the July 4th recess.

Republican Sens. Scott Brown, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe have criticized the merged bill for a $19 billion assessment on big banks, saying it amounts to a "bank tax" that will trickle down to consumers.

In a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate banking committees, Brown wrote, "If the final version of this bill contains these higher taxes, I will not support it ... while some will try to argue this isn't a tax, this new provision takes real money away from the economy, making it unavailable for lending on Main Street, and gives it to Washington. That sounds like a tax to me."

With the death of Sen. Robert Byrd and at least one announced defection among Democrats, Majority Leader Harry Reid needs a few Republicans for the 60 votes required to break a filibuster -- a number Reid doesn't right now.