Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), a critical swing vote, Monday said he will support the conference report on the overhaul of the financial regulatory system when it comes up on the Senate floor.

"I appreciate the efforts to improve the bill, especially the removal of the $19 billion bank tax. As a result, it 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.

Brown's decision to throw his support behind the conference report brings Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) one step closer to gaining the 60 votes needed to fend off a filibuster by Republicans. Brown was one of the handful of Republicans to support the Senate version of the financial regulatory reform bill, which passed in May (see Daily GPI, May 24).

"Senate Democrats want to clear the conference report quickly, but the death of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) and the opposition of at least one Democrat [Russ Feingold of Wisconsin] has thrown uncertainty into the picture. West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin II, a Democrat, has delayed naming an interim replacement as he works on holding a special election in November, leaving the Senate Democratic caucus with 58 members -- two of whom voted against the original Senate version of the bill" in May, CQ Politics reported.

In addition to Brown, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has signaled that she will vote for the bill, and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is expected to support it as well.

The conference report was easily voted out of the House in late June, but it faces a stiffer test in the Senate (see Daily GPI, July 1).

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