House Leaders Working for Support

Posted September 28, 2008 at 4:00pm

House leaders spent Sunday afternoon locked away in meetings with various factions of their parties, with key Members on both sides of the aisle signaling growing momentum for passing a $700 billion financial market bailout package.

Both parties are set to meet at 5 p.m. with their respective caucuses to digest the agreements made throughout the day. Democrats will meet in the Capitol in HC-5; Republicans will gather in Cannon 345.

Emerging from a meeting this afternoon with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the New Democrat Coalition, said most moderate Democrats are lining up in support of the package.

The majority of the 60 members in the business-friendly coalition “are yes or leaning yes,” Tauscher said. About 60 percent support the package and “hopefully the rest will lean that way in the next couple of hours.”

Tauscher said she expects the House to vote on a final package mid-morning on Monday.

NDC Vice Chairman Adam Smith (Wash.) said leadership has been “outstanding” in representing the coalition’s interests but said two sticking points remain: ensuring that taxpayers get their money back and how to best help homeowners facing foreclosure.

Tauscher took a jab at conservative Republicans who have criticized the proposal in recent days, saying that “some of my colleagues just have a knee-jerk reaction” when they don’t have an alternative plan for propping up sagging financial institutions.

“They don’t have an idea,” the California Democrat said. “If they had their own idea, perhaps they wouldn’t try to tear [leadership’s proposal] down.”

Meanwhile, Republicans trickling out of Minority Whip Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) office this afternoon still seemed skeptical of the proposal but signaled they are coming around to supporting it.

“I still haven’t made up my mind,” Financial Services ranking member Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) said.

Bachus said the proposal is “moving in the right direction” but he is waiting to see legislative language. He said he voiced his concerns during a meeting with GOP leaders.

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), a member of a working group advocating free-market principles in the bailout plan, said she is “seeing some movement” among conservatives toward voting for it. “Some will and some won’t.”

Overall, negotiations are going well, Granger said, and Republicans are pleased about provisions being added to the bill relating to chief executive officer compensation caps and aid to community banks.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Group, declined to comment on whether he would support the bailout package now that House GOP proposals have been factored into it.

“I’m going to wait until after Conference meets to make my views known,” Hensarling said as he appeared bound for Blunt’s office.