WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Bob Corker's decision to negotiate directly with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd on regulatory reform may boost the chances of reaching a bipartisan bill, but does not clarify how critical unresolved issues will be worked out.

In an interview Thursday, Corker said he is optimistic a deal is within reach, but acknowledged his concerns track those of the committee's lead Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby. The Tennessee Republican said he has persuaded Dodd to table some of those issues, including how best to strengthen consumer protections, while other reforms are worked out.

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