Frank Cites Administration Movement on Plan

Posted September 22, 2008 at 2:51pm

Administration officials have agreed to oversight and foreclosure language in a $700 billion bailout package, but they remain opposed to bankruptcy provisions and executive compensation caps, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Monday afternoon.

There is still “some contention” among administration officials on the issue of capping compensation of executives at the firms being bailed out, which is “inconceivable,” Frank told reporters. A clear definition of a U.S. financial institution is also still being discussed.

But pointing to administration concessions on oversight and mortgage foreclosures, Frank said there is “a lot more agreement today than there was Saturday.”

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson agreed to an independent oversight board as long as the administration wouldn’t have to wait until it is set up in order to take action under the bill, Frank said. In addition, the administration’s acceptance of foreclosure provisions could help to avert tens of thousands more foreclosures, he said.

Democrats and Republicans still have differences to work out, namely over bankruptcy provisions, Frank said, although he suggested executive compensation wouldn’t be as big a hurdle.

Reiterating his belief that the House can pass its proposal by Friday, Frank said House and Senate proposals are “now very close. … The holdup is not the drafting. It’s conceptual stuff.”

One split in the two proposals relates to Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) seeking the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund. This provision “might cause some scoring issues,” Frank said. “We’ll see how hard they fight on it.”

Democratic leaders are still working out a strategy for advancing other key items this week: a continuing resolution, a budget resolution and an economic stimulus package. Frank said to expect a stand-alone bailout bill and either two bills or one combined measure for the CR and stimulus.

Asked whether President Bush should be more public in endorsing the massive bailout proposal, the Massachusetts Democrat replied, “Frankly, I don’t think that would help us pass the bill.”