WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts helped move sweeping financial legislation closer to passage Monday, announcing that after some misgivings he will support the regulatory overhaul after all. [See who donates the most to Brown.]
Brown joins Sen. Susan Collins of Maine as two crucial Republican votes for the legislation.
Democratic leaders were still looking to secure the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles. They were awaiting word from Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who supported an earlier Senate version of the bill.
Grassley has said he has concerns about the way the bill covers about $19 billion in implementation costs.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also was considering waiting until West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, names a replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd. Manchin said Monday that he would fill the vacancy as early as Friday and no later than Sunday. [See which industries donate the most to Reid.]
With Collins and Brown, the bill now appears to have the support of 59 senators.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley said Monday that Democrats are ready to take the bill up "once we've locked in the votes."
Manchin's appointment would be expected to vote for the legislation. But if Reid must rely on his vote, final passage of the financial regulation would have to be delayed to next week at the earliest.
Brown won concessions in the bill and said Monday that the legislation "is a better bill than it was when this whole process started."
"While it isn't perfect, I expect to support the bill when it comes up for a vote," he said in a statement. "It includes safeguards to help prevent another financial meltdown, ensures that consumers are protected, and it is paid for without new taxes."
Most Republicans have lined up against the bill.
The legislation aims to avoid a recurrence of the 2008 financial crisis that helped drive the country into the worst recession since the Great Depression.