SCENARIOS: U.S. reform for Wall St in 2010, not immigration

* Obama likely to win crackdown on Wall Street

* Immigration reform seems out of reach in 2010

* Election year makes it tough to find much common ground

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON, May 4 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama seems
headed toward winning passage of a landmark crackdown on Wall
Street, but he is not likely to score many other victories on
Capitol Hill before the November U.S. congressional elections.

With Democrats and Republicans jockeying for position, it’s
going to be tough to find much common ground on matters from
immigration and climate change to deficit reduction and gays in
the military.

Here’s a look at what Congress faces before Election Day —
and what it may actually do:


There was a solid wall of Republican opposition to Obama’s
overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system. But a number of
Republicans are expected to support his bid to toughen
regulation of the financial industry. Few want to be seen as
defending Wall Street, which has been tarnished by greed and

Senate Republicans maintained a three-day procedural
roadblock against the measure, complaining it was inadequate or
could result in even more federal bailouts.

But with polls showing broad public support for the
Democratic effort, they relented to permit debate on the bill
crafted by Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, a Democrat.

Ethan Siegal of The Washington Exchange, a private firm
that tracks Congress for institutional investors, said
prospects for passage of the legislation have brightened.

“Our odds for final enactment into law of something that
resembles about 85 percent of the Dodd bill are 70/Yes; 30/No,”
Siegal wrote clients. Just a few weeks ago, Siegal had it


Obama is positioned to win Senate confirmation, likely by
August, of a second U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

He’s expected to pick a successor within weeks for retiring
Justice John Paul Stevens, the court’s leading liberal.

Potential nominees include U.S. Solicitor General Elena
Kagan and at least three appeals court judges: Sidney Thomas of
San Francisco, Diane Wood of Chicago and Merrick Garland of
Washington, D.C.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, who
will preside over the confirmation hearing, says he’s confident
any of the potential picks Obama is considering would be

Republicans could try to raise a procedural roadblock. But,
as was the case with Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee last
year, Sonia Sotomayor, they say that’s unlikely unless the pick
is far outside the mainstream.


Prospects keep worsening for Congress to approve
comprehensive legislation this year to battle global warming.

Senator John Kerry and Senator Joseph Lieberman are still
pushing for a compromise bill to reduce emissions of carbon
dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming.

But they’ve suffered a couple significant setbacks:
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has dropped out of the
effort. He says he’s protesting Democrats’ decision to work on
immigration reform legislation this election year.

Kerry had hoped that if Graham was on board, he ultimately
would bring enough other Republican senators along to win
passage of a climate bill this year.

The other major setback is the worsening oil spill in the
U.S. Gulf Coast. It has reawakened opposition to the expansion
of offshore oil drilling that was to have been included in the
climate bill as a way of luring Republican support.

A possible wild card: the oil spill gives new impetus to
moves toward clean alternative energy that the climate bill
aims to foster.


Senate Democrats are pushing ahead with their uphill bid to
overhaul U.S. immigration laws this year. They sense that the
furor over Arizona’s tough crackdown against illegal immigrants
has given them a lift.

“Our folks were serious about immigration reform before,
but Arizona has added to the urgency,” a senior Democratic aide
told Reuters.

Perhaps. But Democrats seem to lack needed Republican
support and time is running out.

“Not going to happen this year,” said a veteran Capitol Hill
lobbyist. “Perhaps they are teeing it up for next year.”


Well aware their own jobs are on the line, Democrats intend
to keep pushing legislation to reduce the near double-digit
U.S. unemployment rate.

Democrats have won bipartisan passage of a number of
incremental job-creation bills. But they do not have the
support for major legislation, which critics would denounce as
more “big government” spending that would add to the record
federal deficit.


The bipartisan presidential commission on deficit reduction
held its first meeting last month. All agreed that unless the
United States changes its habits, it is headed toward financial

The panel has yet to produce recommendations on reducing he
deficit, but Democrats and Republicans aren’t likely to embrace
the anticipated tough choices this election year: cutting
spending, increasing taxes or a combination of both. In any
case, it does not have to issue its report until Dec. 1, a
month after the elections.


Democrats introduced legislation last week to blunt the
impact of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows
corporations, unions and other groups to spend unlimited funds
on political campaigns.

The initiative, unveiled on the court’s marble steps, calls
for the unprecedented disclosure of money in politics.

But with scant Republican support, the measure isn’t
expected to get very far, at least not this year.

“No need to get ready for a bill signing ceremony,” a
Democratic aide said.


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to hold a
series of hearings on a new arms pact between the United States
and Russia.

Supporters are confident the treaty, which requires 67
votes to be ratified by the 100-member Senate, will be
approved. But it may take until December, following the
November election.


Obama told gay-rights hecklers in California last month
that he remains in favor of ending a ban against gays serving
openly in the U.S. military. “So I don’t know why you are
hollering,” the president said.

Here’s why the hecklers may have been upset: With the
Pentagon raising what appears to be a caution flag, Obama’s
fellow Democrats in Congress don’t seem ready, willing or able
to end the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy implemented in 1993
by then President Bill Clinton.

Stock Market

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Arshad Mohammed;
Editing by David Alexander and Eric Walsh)

SCENARIOS: U.S. reform for Wall St in 2010, not immigration