Democratic and Republican lawmakers began House-Senate negotiations last week in the final push for comprehensive Wall Street reform. Since the start of this year, the financial industry has invested over $28 million in a platoon of lobbyists to weaken the overhaul and “protect the status quo.” Denied an inital opportunity through “backroom negotiations,” lobbyists “pinned their hopes” on the conference process for face time with key lawmakers. One lobbyist preferred the “behind the scenes” conference to the transparency of the Senate floor, saying “let’s have a few wise fathers sit around the table in some quiet room” to determine the details. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that the stigma of this “lobbying army” is preventing them from “get[ting] through the door”:
Wall Street’s lobbying army is marching around Washington in a push to shape the final financial-overhaul bill. But it has gotten harder to get through the door with some lawmakers.
One bank has complained that it no longer has access to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D., Mass.), whose schedule has filled up to accommodate negotiations with his Senate counterparts during the next two weeks. [...]
“The closer you get to the end of the process, the more intense everyone’s efforts get,” says William Sweet, a partner at law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. “A lot of people are losing sleep.”
However, while lawmakers like Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) shun the “lobbying blitz,” GOP lawmakers have embraced the charge. During initial Senate consideration of the bill, House GOP members “huddled” with over 100 lobbyists to “kill” the “financial reform bill.” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has even called upon bankers to “stand up for themselves” against “those little punk staffers” trying to improve regulation. But, when it comes to killing significant progressive initiatives, GOP and K street have made such collusion a habit.