Local reps split along party lines on bailout bill

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
House members who represent Rowan and surrounding counties voted Monday along party lines regarding the proposed $700 billion emergency rescue.
Republican House members Howard Coble and Robin Hayes opposed the bailout while Democrat Mel Watt voted in favor.
The plan was defeated 228-205, sending Wall Street stocks into a 777-point dive.
“The president obviously has no credibility with his own party,” said Watt, noting that it was President Bush and a host of leading congressional figures who pushed for the bailout.
Watt said he and other Democrats figured they’d get about 115 members of their own party to vote for the bailout. Combined with the 100 or so votes they expected from Republicans, they thought it would pass.
But while approximately 140 Democrat House members voted for the bailout, fewer than 70 Republican members did likewise, assuring its defeat.
“While this wasn’t perfect, it was a heck of a lot better than the alternative,” Watt said of the proposal.
He noted that Senate members are expected to address the matter Wednesday. Watt said he thinks House members will return later this week to address the matter again.
“I think we’ll eventually adopt something similar to what we voted down today,” Watt said. “I know we’ll have to do something.”
In voting against the proposed bill, Coble said he was responding to the wishes of the vast majority of his constituents.
“This was a bad deal from the beginning,” Coble said. “And while improvements were made over a weekend of negotiating, the people of the 6th District let me know in no uncertain terms that they were in no mood to bail out those who made some horrible financial decisions.”
Coble said it’s back to the drawing board for members of Congress regarding how to address the situation.
“I was never completely convinced that this rush to judgment was the right approach,” he said.
Coble said there was no guarantee that a $700 billion bailout will even secure the nation’s financial markets.
“Furthermore, the government purchasing toxic assets with taxpayer dollars makes no sense,” he said.
Hayes said much the same, citing a lack of taxpayer protections as part of the reason he opposed the bill. He also noted that foreign banks and investment firms would be eligible for U.S. tax dollars if Congress approved the bill.
“I truly believe we have a credit crisis that is negatively impacting our economy,” Hayes said. “But one of the questions of concern I raised last week was eligibility, and this bill expands eligibility beyond where I think it should be.”