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Bailout Supporters Scramble for Votes

Cooper said there is hope that some Republicans are so burned that they will vote yes, and he dismissed talk by some of his colleagues of changing the bill at this point.

“We don’t get to amend this thing. We’ve got to be realistic about this. We failed to pass our bill. We can’t keep ping-ponging with our economy.”

Cooper said the $1 trillion-plus loss in the stock market after Monday’s defeat is helping to educate some Members on the need for a bill quickly.

Other Members who had voted no earlier were put in tough spots because of the inclusion of the tax provisions, including Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who are backers of the renewable-energy tax credits. Oregon also would benefit hugely from a rural schools provision.

They said they are unsure how they will vote.

Meanwhile, conservative Republican opposition appeared to be softening, with conservative Republican Study Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) saying he hadn’t decided yet how he will vote and is keeping an open mind. RSC members did not hold out much hope of finding votes among their group.

The Republican calculus was complicated Thursday when about two dozen GOPers — a mix of yes and no votes on Monday — teamed up to offer a plan that would slash up to $250 billion of the money made available to the Treasury secretary, with the rest shelved pending a sign-off by lawmakers in November. The proposal, crafted by Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), would also cut four multimillion-dollar projects added in the Senate — derided as indefensible pork by Republicans. Most of the provisions were targeted tax proposals.

House leaders were expected to block the amendment, throwing into doubt the status of those pushing it. One of its backers, Financial Services ranking member Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), said he would “seriously consider” flipping to oppose the package today if the amendment was not adopted.

One potentially rich source of Republican conversions is the Texas delegation, where only 4 of 19 GOPers backed the measure on Monday, a stiff rebuke to President Bush, who had reached out to many of those lawmakers last week.

Bush kept the heat on the delegation this week. His efforts to win over home-state House Republicans appeared to get a boost from the Senate vote, in which both Texas GOP Senators — John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison — supported the package.

But after the delegation huddled Thursday, it was unclear if Bush’s lobbying would produce any results.

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who opposed the package on its first try, said a call from the president this week didn’t change his mind.

But he also said the Texas delegation is “chewing on it, and certain Senate actions have to be factored in.”

Exiting the meeting, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) said the Lone Star State Republicans had discussed “if they heard something new or different to give them guidance on a very difficult vote.” But he called the Senate’s amendments “window dressing” and said his vote remained the same. “Unfortunately, there’s just a lot of ifs and what ifs,” he said. Asked if the Senate add-ons might help the bill, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said, “I think it might end up hurting them.”

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