Finger-Pointing Starts

Posted September 29, 2008 at 2:29pm

House GOP leaders are blaming a floor speech by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as the reason that some Republicans voted against the $700 billion bailout bill.

At a news conference after the vote, House Chief Deputy Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) held up a copy of Pelosi’s floor speech and said her jabs at the Bush administration were “inappropriate in this discussion.”

The economic rescue package went down because of Pelosi’s “failure to listen, failure to lead,” Cantor said.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) also said he lost votes because of the speech, as did Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who said many Republicans “were reluctant anyway, it didn’t take much to turn them off.”

Democrats mocked that explanation.

Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said he could not imagine such a scenario that “because somebody hurt their feelings they decided to punish the country.”

He said the explanation was intended to mask the GOP failures to corral enough votes to pass the package. Of the Members who allegedly switched because of Pelosi’s comments, Frank offered to talk “uncharacteristically nicely to them.”

Boehner said he didn’t know if Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would be called back to the Hill to resume negotiations.

“I don’t know that we know the path forward at this point,” he said.

Blunt conceded that before the vote, “We thought we had a dozen more.” He said GOP leaders will be talking to their Members over the next few days about the next step.