Reid Says GOP Delays AIG Fix

Posted March 19, 2009 at 12:48pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday sought to move beyond the blame game over the stimulus bill provision that allowed executive bonuses to be paid out, but he then pinned responsibility on Republicans for resisting efforts to fix the problem.

Reid defended President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package as a quality piece of legislation and indicated his support for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) — who has been blamed for American International Group executives receiving millions in employment-retention bonuses — while suggesting that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke might be the responsible party.

Dodd on Wednesday blamed the Obama administration for the provision. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday suggested the blame fell on the Senate and the administration.

But Reid refused to follow suit, declining to directly answer reporters’ questions on the matter during a news conference with his fellow Democratic Conference leaders.

“What is the administration? Remember, Bernanke — I guess using the term very broadly — is part of the administration,— Reid said. “I think rather than trying to say: Who did it? When did they do it? Why did they do it?’ I think we should look at the fact that the bill that we passed, the economic recovery package, was a good piece of legislation considering the timeline we were working under.—

Reid added, “I think we have to start focusing on the future, not trying to redo what’s already been done. … I not only don’t want to talk in the rearview mirror, I’m not going to.—

It remains unclear when a bill to recoup the bonus money will hit the Senate floor, although one senior Democratic Senate aide said the legislation could be debated next week.

The bill, being written by Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the panel’s ranking member, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), could be introduced as early as Thursday afternoon.

Reid’s comments followed a news conference in which Senate Republicans blamed Senate Democrats and the Obama administration for the paying out of executive bonuses. Reid charged that Republicans have obstructed every step of the way and suggested that the federal government’s ability to recoup the bonuses paid to AIG executives is being delayed by the GOP.

“There is absolutely no reason that we can’t do the AIG fix before we leave [for Easter recess]. It’s all up to the Republicans,— Reid said. “But as we’ve talked about here today, they’re stuck in reverse. They don’t want us to do anything.—