Pelosi Blames Senate, White House for Bonus Loophole in Stimulus

Posted March 19, 2009 at 11:41am

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is washing her hands of responsibility for what has been dubbed the “AIG loophole,— a provision in the stimulus package that allowed executives of the bailed-out company to receive bonuses.

“This is the Senate-White House language,— Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “This never came to the House side, and you can talk to any of our conferees. That’s an absolute fact.—

Republicans have seized on the mystery of who authored the language to bash Democrats as complicit in the firestorm over the $165 million in compensation payments to American International Group top brass. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) agreed to the language after Treasury officials pressed him on it, arguing that blocking the bonuses could open the U.S. government to costly lawsuits.

And though the provision survived bicameral talks on last month’s stimulus package, Pelosi pushed back against any suggestion that House negotiators deserve some credit for it. “Our record is clear. If you want to talk about what happened in the Senate, go to the Senate side,— she said.

Republicans, however, argued that Pelosi and every House Democrat who voted for the stimulus package voted to protect bonuses at AIG and at other firms.

“Every one of them voted in the stimulus package to protect those bonuses,— House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) said.

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.