GOP Says Reid Packing the Meeting

Posted September 27, 2008 at 3:20pm

Updated: 4:50 p.m. House and Senate GOP aides warned Saturday that Democrats threatened to blow up talks on a financial market rescue plan by sending in too many negotiators, particularly those with a political bent. Although Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson asked each leader of the House and Senate to send only one envoy to the negotiating table, both House and Senate Democrats appear to be disregarding that. At the beginning of what was billed as a crucial negotiating session Saturday afternoon, Democrats sent in five Senators and three House Members, compared with one representative each from the House and Senate Republicans. Paulson and a few other Treasury officials were also present. Republicans said they particularly objected to the presence of Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.), despite the fact that he represents Wall Street. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “seems to have appointed a circus headed by the DSCC chairman,” one irate senior House GOP aide said. “The Democrats have been arguing that [presidential candidate Sen.] John McCain [R-Ariz.] has been politicizing this process the past several days, and House Republicans have really been trying to work in good faith across the aisle, but having a campaign chairman in there brings a level of politics that does not need to be in there.” GOP aides said Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should have honored Paulson’s request to keep the negotiating team manageable. Besides Schumer and Paulson, the meeting is being attended by Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Senate Budget ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). Reid said Friday that he was not prepared to abide by Paulson’s request for only four Congressional negotiators. “I’m not going to be told who can attend meetings over here,” Reid said. “Every meeting, Sen. Dodd will be involved in. I think we have to have Sen. Max Baucus involved [and] Sen. Conrad. We have other Senators who have been heavily involved in this that will continue to be heavily involved in this.” After emerging briefly to vote on the House floor, Blunt cracked: “I think the ratio’s about fair. It’s two to eight or something.”