Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who serves as ranking member on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee chaired by embattled Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), declined in a brief interview late Thursday to join the criticism being piled on his Democratic colleague for a stimulus bill loophole that allowed for millions in executive bonuses to be paid out.
Despite their differences on whether banks and other financial firms should receive federal bailout funds — Dodd has supported the moves, Shelby has been adamantly opposed — the Alabama Republican said he always suspected that the White House was behind the loophole, explaining that it didn’t make sense to him that his Democratic colleague from Connecticut would have pushed for it.
“I thought all along that the responsibility for the change in the Dodd amendment — that it was grandfathered in — that it had to come from Treasury. And now we found out that’s where it came from,— Shelby said. “That was not the Dodd first amendment. If you remember, [Dodd’s original amendment] did not have that on there.—
Dodd, who included the loophole in the $790 billion economic stimulus package at the request of the Treasury Department, has taken the brunt of the public outrage directed at Congress in recent days — particularly in his home state, where next year he will be up for re-election.
The loophole protected the bonus payouts for companies, most notably American International Group, that have received rescue funds from the federal government.
Shelby indicated that part of the problem is the manner in which the stimulus bill was rushed through the Senate. The Senator noted that neither he nor Dodd were on the conference committee that negotiated the final form of the bill.
“A lot of people weren’t in the loop,— Shelby said. “When you do these things in secret, and you’re trying to do them so fast; no accountability, so to speak, no press coverage, you have trouble. That’s what happens.—