New obstacles to speedy passage of the financial-reform bill emerged June 29 that likely will postpone a Senate vote on legislation that would reshape the debit card interchange landscape.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., on June 29 said he would not vote to support the financial-reform bill unless a provision to tax banks to help offset the bill’s cost is removed.

Observers widely had expected a Senate vote on July 1, with hopes of passing the bill before Congress recesses.

In a letter sent to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., Brown said he strongly opposes the $19 billion tax that emerged during conference-committee discussions. “This tax was not in the Senate version of the bill, which I supported,” he wrote.

The bank tax was added in the final hours of committee negotiations on the bill on June 25 to avoid sticking taxpayers with the cost of implementing the new legislation.

Democrats are meeting today to discuss reworking aspects of the bank tax.

Brown’s support is crucial to ensure the 60 votes necessary for the bill’s passage. Minus Brown, Democrats would need to persuade at least one additional Senate member to switch sides and vote for the bill and maintain existing Republican supporters of the bill.

The Senate’s schedule is further complicated by memorial plans for Sen. Robert Byrd., D-W.Va., who died on Monday. His funeral on Friday in West Virginia will be attended by much of the Senate.

The Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act would direct the Federal Reserve for the first time to determine the “reasonable and proportional” cost of U.S. debit-interchange rates (see story)  U.S. merchants say debit-interchange fees cost them some $20 billion annually

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