[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/12/art.bull.wallstreet.file.gi.jpg caption="Progressives in Congress are growing restless on what they perceive as a lack of progress on banking regulation reform."](CNN) – In the U.S. Senate, the progressives are restless. A handful of them are making it known that Democratic leaders shouldn't take their votes for granted when it comes to Wall Street reform.
"I won't vote for a bill if the banks have control of it," Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told CNN.
Brown sits on the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and is among a group who are worried Democrats have given away too much to woo Republican support for the bill. "Republicans are doing the bidding of their benefactors, the banks," he said.
"We're in a wait and see mode," fellow Banking Democrat Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, told CNN. Earlier this week, Merkley and four other senators introduced a bill that would change the rules of the game on Wall Street far more dramatically than the proposal Dodd was said to be negotiating.
"We watched investment houses blow up, now there's even greater risk in the system," said Merkley, who insisted Congress needs to fix the entire "framework" that allowed big banks to make risky bets putting other peoples money at stake.
The warnings come as Banking Chairman Chris Dodd announced negotiations with Republicans are taking too long, and he will unveil his own Wall Street reform bill on Monday. Though Dodd's proposal has no Republican support, the Connecticut Democrat said he will incorporate many Republican ideas in the hopes he will win bipartisan support in time.
Two others senators who have expressed deep reservations: Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Delaware. In remarks on the Senate floor, Kaufman warned he won't get behind "compromise measures that give only the illusion of change and a false sense of accomplishment."
Sanders told CNN he would vote against a Wall Street reform bill unless it includes an independent consumer regulator and tough new restrictions on banks.
"The American people are disgusted with the behavior of Wall Street and they don't want us to go back to a time when Wall Street had no accountability and no regulation," said Sanders.
For months, Dodd has been focused not on his left flank, but on wooing members to his right. Since late last year, he's been negotiating with Republicans and trying to craft a bipartisan bill. But some frustrated Democrats have grumbled that Dodd is repeating the mistake Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, made when he lost weeks negotiating health care reform, courting Republican votes in vain. On Thursday, Dodd abruptly announced he's cutting short negotiations in favor of moving forward with the bill. "The time is shrinking to get this done," Dodd told reporters.
His negotiating partner, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, sounded surprised and miffed by the shortened timetable. Corker blamed Dodd's sudden impatience on the brewing fight over health care reform, reconciliation and the "tensions" its stirring up in the Senate.
Some Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Sen. Tim Johnson, South Dakota, told CNN they are still hopeful they can get a bipartisan bill in time.
But the progressives would be happy going it alone – and challenging the other party to vote no on Wall Street reform in an election year.
"He can't get a good bill with Republican support because the banks have Republicans on a short leash," Brown said. "They're doing the bidding of their benefactors, the banks."
As for those negotiating, Brown added: "I don't question the motives on either side."
Still another Democratic senator, who asked not to be named, said the influence of banks isn't limited to senators in just one party. "These banking institutions are so powerful, they're all afraid of taking them on," the senator said.