Leaders Hopeful of Quick Action on Bailout

Posted September 21, 2008 at 11:45am

Congressional leaders were confident Sunday that they will pass a $700 billion bailout package in the coming days, despite an emerging partisan split over homeowner protections and executive salary caps being part of the plan.

“I am reasonably certain the House will have passed this by the end of the week,” House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.”

Frank predicted the rescue bill for the sinking financial sector will get done before Congress adjourns, although he said the targeted adjournment date of Friday may get pushed back by a week.

After a weekend of meetings between administration officials and key Congressional staff, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said party leaders in both chambers are “determined to act quickly but deliberately” to pass a bill.

During an interview on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” Dodd emphasized that Democrats have a “real interest in oversight and accountability” being part of the still-developing plan. Specifically, Democrats want added relief for homeowners facing foreclosures, a provision that neither Republicans nor administration officials appear to support.

Democrats are also pushing to include up to $50 billion in economic stimulus items and capping the salaries of executives at firms being bailed out.

“It is important to make sure [the proposal] is as friendly to the taxpayers and public interest as possible,” Frank said.

Republicans have balked at the idea of attaching provisions other than those put forward by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

“We don’t need 535 Members of Congress adding their best ideas to this bill,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who appeared on “This Week” alongside Dodd. “We need to keep it clean and simple.”

Pointing to legislation passed last summer that gave new tools to the Federal Housing Administration, Boehner said lawmakers have already addressed the foreclosure issue and said it is time to “rise above partisan politics” to pass a clean bailout bill.

There are “a lot of well-meaning, well-intentioned ideas out there, but they don’t need to be part of this package,” the Minority Leader said.

Dodd shot back that the foreclosure crisis caused the financial market meltdown and said it must be addressed as part of the solution. In addition, he said, corporate executives must be willing to give back to the taxpayers who are funding their firm’s bailouts.

“I want clean and simple,” Dodd said. “But again, I want accountability and I want some reciprocity here that doesn’t get away from and complicate the secretary’s job.”

Paulson appeared resistant to including new homeowner protections in the bill. “We need this to be clean and quick, and we need to get it in place,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

The Treasury secretary said the government has been focused on the foreclosure crisis “for a long time,” and the reality is that most people facing foreclosures are “people who either don’t want to stay in their home and live up to their obligations, or those who never had the financial capability to stay in their home.”

Paulson added, “The biggest help we can give the American people right now is to stabilize the financial system.”