With a single pledge of support, Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell yesterday brought life back to the faltering financial reform bill.
"This legislation is not perfect, and I will continue to push for even bolder action -- including a return to the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking -- to reign [sic] in Wall Street, put an end to the concept of ‘too-big-to-fail.’ But this bill makes significant strides toward preventing the kind of financial meltdown that we saw in the fall of 2008," Cantwell said in a statement Thursday.
Cantwell split with the majority of her party to vote against the legislation in May. She was one of six swing vote senators, four Republicans and two Democrats, whom Democratic leaders have been courting.
At the outset of this week, Democratic strategists had reckoned that five other senators had still been on the fence: Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who, along with Cantwell voted against the legislation in May, and Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Charles Grassley of Iowa, all of whom voted for the bill.
But none of these swing votes broke ranks this week to announce their support, and the legislation appeared to face major obstacles without the vote of Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, who died Monday at the age of 92.
Feingold restated his opposition, arguing the legislation was too weak, and Brown said he had deep reservations about fees and assessments in the bill, throwing his support in doubt. The Senate postponed its scheduled vote on the measure this week as it became clear that the votes weren't there to pass it before the July 4th recess.
But things began to turn around midweek when Collins announced she was "inclined to support" the bill after all. Now, Cantwell's support puts Democrats closer to the 60 votes they need to overcome a GOP filibuster.
The Senate plans to take up the bill after lawmakers return from recess.
-Rachel Rose Hartman is a politics writer for Yahoo! News.