Paulson Presses Republicans

Posted July 22, 2008 at 4:11pm

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson attended the weekly Republican policy luncheon on Tuesday, giving leery Republicans a supportive nudge and working to curb resistance to his mortgage rescue plan, according to several GOP lawmakers.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) said Paulson’s attendance was to make the case for the housing bill, which is slated to include language to allow unlimited government credit to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Brownback added that Paulson said the housing bill, though not perfect, would bring “confidence” to the markets.

“We’ve got to show backing to the markets,” Brownback said. “I think overall people were quite receptive. We’ve got to show support. I think overall people were reacting positively.”

However, Paulson’s lobbying appeared to have little effect on one Republican.

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), the main critic of emergency housing legislation and who previously said he would do everything possible to quash the housing bill, was one of the first Members to leave the GOP luncheon. Bunning did not stop to comment.

But Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) predicted that despite concern over the government bailout, and a $25 billion price tag, many lawmakers would simply “hold their nose” when casting ballots for it since they ultimately don’t want to see the housing entities fail.