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House on Path to Pass Bill This Week to Recoup Bonuses

House Democratic leaders are cramming to pass legislation this week that would lean on the tax code to punish American International Group executives for doling out $165 million in bonuses while taking billions in taxpayer dollars.

“We’re on a very, very fast track,— House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday. “I think it would be awkward to allow this to simmer over the weekend.—

Rangel said House leaders are racing to craft a bill that will go further than a separate Senate proposal to impose a 70 percent tax on bonuses taken by executives receiving federal bailout money. He said the House version will go beyond AIG and target specific companies aided by those rescue dollars.

Rangel wouldn’t specify the tax rate being discussed by House leaders, saying only that it will be “higher— than the Senate’s proposal. He said the tax being discussed would apply to any bonuses received this year, and would be retroactive only to Jan. 1, 2009.

The New York Democrat said he changed his mind on the issue of using the tax code to punish AIG executives because of the “very unusual and unique— situation that has resulted from that particular company. In addition, he said, Congress is not left with many alternatives.

“I would hope that something like this would never happen again that would cause us to use the code for this purpose, but I feel comfortable in what has happened to us is so unique. … We have to send a message out there,— Rangel said.

Rangel said he expected to go to conference committee with the Senate this week to align their two bills.

In related news, House Republicans on Wednesday used a procedural motion to force a vote on a bill that directs the Treasury Department to produce a plan within the next two weeks to recoup the AIG bonuses. The bill would also require the Treasury to approve all future bonus payments made by recipients of bailout dollars.

The motion ultimately failed, but Republicans picked up support from eight Democrats: Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Travis Childers (Miss.), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Harry Mitchell (Ariz.), Glenn Nye (Va.), Tom Perriello (Va.) and Gene Taylor (Miss.).

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