Senators Wary of Bailout Bill

Posted September 23, 2008 at 10:42am

Senators expressed deep reservations about the Treasury’s $700 billion plan to bail out Wall Street Tuesday morning, with many arguing that Congress should stay in town beyond the end of this week to make sure the proposal is examined.

“It’s absolutely reprehensible that in the biggest financial crisis in history, our timeline is to get out of here on Friday,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), during a hearing before the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) said dealing with the “most palpable crisis since we gathered here in this building after the 9/11 attacks … may be worth postponing going home to campaign.”

Democratic leaders in both chambers have been under pressure to adjourn by Friday to allow Members to return home in advance of the November elections.

Many Senators in both parties also criticized Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for what they believed was a piecemeal approach to the crisis in financial markets and said the initial proposal for a bailout did not do enough to protect taxpayers.

“Nowhere in this package do I see equity sharing or loss mitigation that will protect the taxpayer,” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said to applause from the audience. “This legislation must be passed to help Main Street, not because the federal government is being held hostage by Wall Street.”

In addition to Paulson and Bernanke, Securities and Exchange Chairman Chris Cox, and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart are testifying, and all are expected to continue their testimony past noon.