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Pelosi Demands Mortgage Aid

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday demanded that the Bush administration spell out a plan to help distressed homeowners before releasing the remaining $350 billion in the $700 billion financial rescue fund.

Pelosi said the law’s written intent of providing mortgage relief “has been totally ignored by the administration,” adding that the bill would have failed without the promise of mortgage aid.

If lawmakers wanted to block the Bush administration from spending the remaining $350 billion, they would need to return to Washington to do so. As it stands, the Bush administration first must ask Congress to release the money. If Congress opposes the request, lawmakers would need to pass a resolution rescinding the appropriation within 15 days of that request.

That resolution would be subject to a presidential veto.

Pelosi also said that she continues to be supportive of using some of the financial rescue funding for the struggling automakers — an option the Bush administration had refused to consider until separate auto bailout legislation failed last week in the Senate.

Pelosi also talked of the need for an economic recovery package of perhaps $600 billion early next year, noting that economists have recommended about $400 billion in spending and aid to the states and about $200 billion in tax cuts. However, Pelosi did not commit to those amounts.

The Speaker also defended the character of both Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and declined to say whether there should be an ethics investigation into the scandal and arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (Ill.). Pelosi said she had been traveling and did not know the extent of Jackson and Emanuel’s involvement in the case.

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