Lawmakers Push Back on Deadline for Action

Posted September 22, 2008 at 9:39am

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Monday that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is being “entirely unreasonable” by asking Congress to pass a sweeping bailout package in the next 24 hours.

Frank also said it was “outrageous” that Paulson would not allow lawmakers to add language to cap the compensation of executives at the firms being bailed out.

Paulson “is being entirely unreasonable when he’s worked on this for some days, sent it to us Saturday morning and wants it passed by Monday,” Frank said on “Good Morning America.”

On the issue of limiting CEO compensation at failed banks, Frank said Democrats will continue to insist that this be part of the package as a condition for giving them aid.

“If the secretary would agree to that, we could move quickly. But if he insists that that’s somehow a terrible thing, then it slows it down a little bit,” the Financial Services chairman said.

Republican Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.), who also appeared on “Good Morning America,” agreed with Frank that lawmakers will want time to debate the bill instead of just endorsing the administration-drafted proposal.

“We need enough time, not longer than a week, to debate this,” Shays said.

The proposal will probably need stronger oversight than it currently has, the Connecticut Republican said, adding that the question is whether $700 billion is going to be enough. Paulson “can’t come back a second time” and tell lawmakers, “We really needed a trillion.”

Frank said lawmakers are building “strong oversight” into the bill and will require Paulson to report back to Congress monthly.

“I trust Hank Paulson,” Frank added. “But I don’t trust anybody to have the amount of power he asked for in the bill he sent us.”

In a written statement, President Bush today warned lawmakers that delaying the $700 billion bank bailout proposal could cause harm from Wall Street to Main Street.

“Obviously, there will be differences over some details, and we will have to work through them. That is an understandable part of the policy making process,” Bush said. “But it would not be understandable if Members of Congress sought to use this emergency legislation to pass unrelated provisions, or to insist on provisions that would undermine the effectiveness of the plan.”