Time to Pass Bailout, Republican Leaders Say
October 3, 2008 - 9:56 AMOn Friday, shortly before the U.S. House of Representatives began voting on what they call an improved financial bailout bill, House Republican leaders insisted the legislation must pass this time.
“I think most Americans understand we’re facing a serious economic crisis,” House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) said Friday morning at the Capitol. He credited Republicans for “standing on principle” to make the bill better.
“Is it perfect? No,” Boehner said of the Senate-passed bill. “But it’s clearly better than it was a week ago,” he added.
The Senate added $110 billion in tax breaks and other sweeteners to the “rescue” package that now awaits a House vote. But the same tax breaks that pleased some Republican critics angered conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats who are concerned about increasing the budget deficit.
Boehner, who urged Republicans to support the bill on Monday when it failed, said he’s optimistic it will pass on Friday.
“It’s time to act on behalf of the American people – it’s about their savings, it’s about their jobs, it’s about their retirement security. And we, as members of Congress, have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect the American economy and protect our constituents.”
Three things have changed since the House failed to pass the $700-billion bailout plan on Monday, House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mol) said:
First, “Calls to district’s members offices have begun to even out, where you have about as many people beginning to recognize that this has impact on their pension plans, this has impact on their retirement plan, their IRA, this has impact maybe even on credit at the bank --we’re hearing more and more all across the country,” he said.
Second, Blunt said the Securities and Exchange Commission “took some significant action” regarding how assets are valued in the marketplace. The bill includes a 45-day study to determine if the new accounting standards make a difference, he said.
“The third thing is the important additions to the bill itself,” including higher FDIC insurance and the addition of tax legislation. Most Republicans would support such tax legislation in a stand-alone bill, Blunt said.
Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) noted that the financial crisis is beginning to impact state governments. He said Florida hasn’t been able to borrow money for three weeks; and he also mentioned California, which says it can’t access credit in the frozen market.
“This is something our members take very seriously and are continuing to work through these issues to find the best possible public policy for our people,” Putnam said.
‘If it works’
The plan before the House would allow the government to spend billions of dollars to buy bad mortgage-related securities and other devalued assets from troubled financial institutions.
According to the Associated Press, “If it works, advocates say, that would allow frozen credit to begin flowing again and prevent a serious recession.” If it works.
The A.P. also quoted black lawmakers as saying that “personal calls from Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama helped switch them from ‘no’ to ‘yes’” votes.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking House Democrat, said Thursday there was a "good prospect" of approving the measure but stopped short of predicting passage.
"I'm going to be pretty confident that we have sufficient votes to pass this before we put it on the floor," Hoyer said.
The Senate voted 74-25 to approve the bailout on Wednesday. The House needs 218 votes to pass it.
(This report uses some information provided by the Associated Press.)