After Passage In Senate, House To Vote On Bailout
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
But first, to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers spent the day counting the yeses and the nos as the House prepares to vote tomorrow on an expanded version of the financial rescue plan. Some House members who refused to back the $700 billion package on Monday have said that they will support the version that passed the Senate. NPR's Debbie Elliott has this report.
DEBBIE ELLIOTT: It's been a day of arm twisting and soul searching on Capitol Hill as congressional leaders and President Bush try to convince a dozen or so House members to get behind the bailout package.
JIM MCCRERY: I think we're close.
ELLIOTT: Louisiana Congressman Jim McCrery is the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. He says lawmakers are in a very difficult position.
MCCRERY: We have been called upon to make a momentous decision regarding the economy of the United States in a very short period of time. And we are not accustomed to that. We've had two weeks, basically, to come up with a response to something that we are told is on the verge of calamity.
ELLIOTT: McCrery voted for the bill Monday and has been urging his colleagues to now do the same. Two-thirds of House Republicans rejected the plan Monday. But today, several of them have reconsidered and now plan to vote yes. Arizona Republican John Shadegg is among them. He appeared on CNN today.
JOHN SHADEGG: All along, Secretary Paulson having, I think, thrown gasoline on this fire by lobbying the bill with fear has created a climate in America and quite frankly, a climate around the world where it is vitally important that we do something. And I don't like the structure of the bill. I would write it very differently. But I think for the sake of the overall economy and so that Americans don't lose their jobs, it's important that we act. And I think this package is the best we're going to get.
ELLIOTT: Democratic House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, a key negotiator on the rescue plan, says he's not sure there are enough votes yet, but describes a new political climate this time around.
BARNEY FRANK: Politically, the good vote on Monday was no. That's clear now. It doesn't mean because people have heard from a number of people in the business community, and people have also seen harm that they may have been skeptical of.
ELLIOTT: Some lawmakers say they've been swayed by new provisions in the Senate bill. It still allows the government to buy up to $700 billion in bad debt. It also sets a higher limit for federally insured bank accounts. Frank says such sweeteners also provide political cover.
FRANK: I think the importance of the changes is that it's both the substance of the changes for some people, and for others, it's hard to explain why you just change your vote on the same bill. The fact that it's a different bill, I think, we'll make it easier for some people to explain the change in vote.
ELLIOTT: As an added incentive, the Senate attached the bailout to about $150 billion worth of popular tax breaks for renewable energy, for homeowners who don't itemize ,and for businesses. That didn't work for Texas Republican Ted Poe, a steadfast opponent.
TED POE: The bill to bailout the elite financial industry in New York that caused this mess failed this House, but our Senate colleagues are sending us a new bill four times longer than the 100 page bill rejected by us. The bill to stabilize the financial industry is now packed with squeaky pork. One would ask what does pork have to do with the financial industry? Well, nothing, of course.
ELLIOTT: Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says, despite reservations on both sides of the aisle, the bill needs bipartisan support.
NANCY PELOSI: Congress must act, we must intervene. We have to send a message of confidence to the market.
ELLIOTT: A vote is expected tomorrow, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says he won't bring the financial rescue package to the floor unless he's confident there are enough votes to pass it. Debbie Elliott, NPR News, the Capitol.
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