USD700 Billion Passes With Majority : 1.25pm

Posted by Kris | Saturday, October 04, 2008 | | 0 comments »

Live-Blogging the House’s Bailout Debate

Today the House of Representatives debated on and passed the bailout package it unexpectedly rejected on Monday. (C-SPAN is streaming the debate online.) Below is a running blog on the debate, with the most recent items at the top.

1:25 p.m. | Bill passes: The bill passed 263 to 171. The vast majority of Democrats voted in favor (172 yeas to 63 nays), while a slighter majority of Republicans voted against (91 yeas to 108 nays). Read the Times’s full story on the vote here.

1:08 p.m. | Voting begins: Representatives are entering their final votes on the bill. They have fifteen minutes to do so.

1:03 p.m. | Praising gravy: While other representatives who have spoken so far have criticized the bits of unrelated legislation added onto this bailout bill, Representative Pelosi is praising some relatively unrelated legislation she’s proud of — language affecting energy policy and health insurance for the mentally ill, for example.

12:58 p.m. | Pelosi reprise: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, is at bat now. She was resoundly criticized for being too partisan in her speech on Monday. Her tone has tempered so far today.

12:52 p.m. | ‘Right’ vs. ‘Popular’: Representative Steny Hoyer indirectly urges his colleagues to vote against what their constituents might say they want. He says Americans do not uniformly agree that the bill should be passed, but they all “expect the people’s House to act in the way they think best.”

Representative John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio who is the Minority Leader, now echoes the “do the right thing” rhetoric.

12:44 p.m. | Hoyer speaks: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, has taken the podium. Sounds like we’re nearing a vote.

Representative Hoyer says, “We have been criticized as a body for not deciding affirmatively on Monday,” and that “initial failure should not stand.”

He also notes this morning’s dismal jobs report — which I think is the first time the indicator has been mentioned in the debate.

12:38 p.m. | Legacy vote: Representative Charles Pickering, a Republican from Mississippi, says this will be his last House vote before leaving Congress. “For all of us this will be a legacy vote” though, he says. He voted in favor of the bill on Monday. After he spoke there was brief applause.

He says after the vote he’s going home to “watch my sons play high school football.”

12:30 p.m. | Obama allusion: Representative Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California, paraphrased Senator Barack Obama’s statement that there will be a time to punish the people who “set this fire,” but that now is the time to support a good but imperfect bailout package.

I’m not sure, but this seems to be the first time that Senator Obama’s name has come up in the debate. John McCain’s name has been tossed around a number of times, though.

12:27 p.m. | Save Mom: Representative Dan Lungren, a Republican from California, says Congress should pass the bailout bill to save his 91-year-old mother’s finances. “She has no pension; she has what my dad left her,” he says, and essentially he wants to protect her investments from market volatility.

12:24 p.m. | Ron Paul: Representative Ron Paul, a Republican from Texas with libertarian views, not surprisingly chides his colleagues for saying the country needs more financial regulation.

12:20 p.m. | Meyer Mishkin lives!: Representative Gwen Moore, a Democrat from Wisconsin, cites my colleague David Leonhardt’s anecdote about Meyer Mishkin — a shopkeeper who expressed schadenfreude over the Wall Street crash of 1929, only to find that the crash set off a domino effect that destroyed his business — as a reason to support the bill.

12:17 p.m. | Fight the herd: Representative Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Ohio, urges her colleagues to “stand up to” the “herd of bulls and bears” rushing at Congress. She says Congress should “vote no to get a real deal, not a fast deal.”

12:12 p.m. | Helping homeowners: Representative Donna Edwards, a Democrat from Maryland who voted against the bill on Monday, asked Representative Frank if the bill gives Treasury the authority to help out homeowners. Representative Frank says it does.

12:07 p.m. | Twenty traitors: Representative Steven LaTourette, a Republican from Ohio, berated “twenty Republicans” for their votes on a recent procedural rule that he says prevented the House from removing pork from the bailout bill. (He also noted that a $192 million subsidy for rum has thankfully ensured politicians “the pirate vote” for November.)

Representative LaTourette said he would “make known” the names of the twenty Republican traitors, to which Representative Frank replied that John McCain, who voted for the Senate’s larded up bill, “should be at the top” of the made-known traitor list.

11:53 a.m. | And farmers?: Now other representatives are asking Mr. Frank about the impact of the bailout package on their own constituents’ industries. Representative Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Colorado, wants to know how the bill will affect farmers.

I wonder if these are the types of questions that should have been asked in a hearing and not a debate — i.e., where an expert, rather than a politician, would have been giving the answers. Then again, lawmakers are probably asking questions they already know the answers to, to make the point that they’re voting in their constituents’ best interests.

11:50 a.m. | Auto industry: Representative John Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, asks Barney Frank whether the bill will help the automotive industry in his state. Mr. Frank responds with an enthusiastic yes.

11:39 a.m. | No socialism!: After Jeb Hensarling, a Republican representative from Texas, affirmed that he was voting against the bill because it smacks of socialism and might represent limits on liberty, Barney Frank, a Democratic representative from Massachusetts, said that he is “ever mindful” that George Bush might “lead us down the road to socialism,” and so Congress would monitor the bailout closely.

11:25 a.m. | International shockwaves: Many of the lawmakers so far have argued that the bill either helps or hurts “regular” Americans beyond Wall Street. Few have noted that the Congress’s vote today has ramifications even further past Wall Street, all the way to Europe, Asia and beyond. Representative Joseph Crowley, a Democrat from New York, so far is one of those few: “The entire world is looking at us today,” he says, “and looking to see us vote in favor of this bill.”

11:20 a.m. | Democratic convert: Representative Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from New Jersey, also says he’s changing his vote from a nay to a yea. “I know that the enemy of the good is the perfect,” he says. He says the bill has improved since Monday, and that while there is “some junk in this bill,” there’s junk in almost every bill.

11:12 a.m. | Another convert: Representative Zach Wamp, a Republican from Tennessee, says he cast a “blue-collar vote for the American people” on Monday when he voted against the bill. Today, he says, he’s going to cast a “red-, white- and blue-collar vote for the American people.” He says he thinks the bill has improved since Monday — in particular, he calls out the F.D.I.C. insurance limit increase and the mark-to-market provisions — and says he’s particularly impressed by the fact that Warren Buffett “feels good about it.”

Representative Wamp says he thinks the bill is still “disgusting,” but “Congress has to act.” he urges his colleagues: “Hold your hand over your heart and vote yes.”

11:07 a.m. | Inter-House bashing: Representative John Tanner, a Democrat from Tennessee, says he wishes to express his “utter disgust and frustration with the way [the bill] was handled in the other body,” that is, the Senate. He says he’s going to vote for the bill again today despite the problems he saw with the way the bill was transformed by the Senate.

11:03 a.m. | Tax cuts: Representative Dave Camp, a Republican from Michigan, praises the bill’s ability to “pass an AMT patch without increasing taxes.”

11:00 a.m. | Vote switch: Finally, a congressman proudly says he’s going to switch his vote from Monday. Representative Howard Coble, a Republican from North Carolina, says he had received an overwhelming number of calls urging him to vote down the bill before Monday’s vote. Since then, he says, the calls are “still overwhelming,” but this time in favor of the bill. He says constituent input, coupled with a number of changes in the rescue package, have convinced him to vote in favor of the bill today.

10:58 a.m. | Stock update: My colleague Michael M. Grynbaum notes that stocks are moving sharply higher on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones industrials up about 160 points, as investors wait for the House roll-call vote to begin. The dour data from this morning’s jobs reports appeared to be mitigated by a surprise move in the banking sector: Wells Fargo, the West Coast bank, snatched up the Wachovia Corporation, scuttling a previously announced agreement with Citigroup.

10:53 a.m. | Blunt’s appeal: Representative Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri who is the minority whip, makes a fervent case for the bill, and especially for its “transparency” and strong structure. “This bill protects taxpayers,” he says. “This bill has every known oversight mechanism ever conceived of” by government.

10:47 a.m. | Chatty lawmakers: Debate has continued, with Representative Charles Rangel, a Democrat from New York, taking the floor — or at least trying to. He keeps getting interrupted by reminders to chatty lawmakers to zip it or leave the room.

10:36 a.m. | Another procedural vote: Expect more debate soon, and a vote on the bill likely mid-day.

10:15 a.m. | Leadership optimism: Representative Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri who is the minority whip, tells members of the press that he’s optimistic that the bill will pass for three reasons: 1) calls to members and district office “have begun to even out,” meaning they’re not all so negative; 2) the S.E.C. took “significant action” Republicans wanted inclarifying the mark-to-market accounting rules; and 3) unlike the previous version of the bill, the new bill raises the F.D.I.C. insurance limits and mandates tax cuts, both of which Representative Blunt indicates House Republicans support.

10:07 a.m. | Procedural vote: Representatives have fifteen minutes to vote on a procedural motion. More debate should follow soon.

10:02 a.m. | Main Street: Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a Democrat from New York, says, “This is not about Wall Street anymore. This is about my constituents,” and that it’s about “stopping the bleeding going through this economy.”

She says the problems her fellow lawmakers with the bill are resolvable, possibly in future votes: “Today is not the end of all days,” she says. “Today is the beginning of getting legislation passed.”

9:58 a.m. | Sob stories: A few representatives, including Dennis Kucinich and Phil Hare, relate the sad stories of constituents who are in debt and need help. Representative Kucinich says this bill provides no relief to regular people who are under water.

9:53 a.m. | History on his side: Representative Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana, says that “When the government chooses winners and losers in the marketplace, everyone loses.” He enlists the support of a number of historical figures — the founding fathers, Teddy Roosevelt — in his belief that the bill will “place on the American public a responsibility which is not theirs,” to rescue big financial institutions.

9:49 a.m. | Subprime solution: Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat from Texas, denigrates the bailout bill as “the biggest subprime loan in American history,” and says he “will not be stampeded into voting yes.”

9:43 a.m. | Earmark criticisms: Representative Steve LaTourette, a Republican from Ohio, chastises lawmakers for “larding up” the bill with earmarks, specifically mocking the wooden arrows subsidy in the bill.

9:33 a.m. | Necessary evil: Those supporting the bill are making a big show of how they must hold their nose to do so, emphasizing that the bill is “medicine” that must be swallowed.

Representative David Dreier, a Republican from California, ranking member on the House Rules Committee, calls the bill “a necessary evil.” He says normally he would want free markets to sort themselves out, but that the markets can’t sort themselves out because “the market didn’t cause this mess.” He says government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are to blame, as are government regulators who didn’t provide adequate oversight. “Today we are not experiencing market failure,” he says. “We’re experiencing the inevitable attempts of government to manipute the market.” The solution? Vote for the bill, he says, to undo the government’s wrongs.

9:20 a.m. | Opening talks: The House opened with a few one-minute talks from both sides of the aisle. So far many of the speeches, which may or may not be representative of the views of the entire House, are pretty negative on the bill.

Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, argued that the House should take up a suggestion from the former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, William Isaac, to “use the emergency powers of the F.D.I.C.” instead of the $700 billion bailout package. He compared acceptance of this bill to acceptance of the false threat of weapons of mass destruction.

A former presidential candidate, Representative Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, said America has gone from “the New Deal to the raw deal.” He says future generations will ask why Congress didn’t hold financial titans accountable. He says they’ll ask, “Why didn’t we take the time to make an intelligent decision? Why? Why? Why?”

Another Democrat, Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, urged passage of the bill, speaking about how people will not being able to get student loans or other things they need. If the House doesn’t act today, he said, “families will suffer.”

A Republican, Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, struck a somber note, saying, “This may be the day America dies.”

Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, announced his pleasure that the bill includes an increase on F.D.I.C. insurance limits, calling it medicine that’s bitter that you don’t want to take but you need. He also made a rock classic allusion, paraphrasing Mick Jagger: “Sometimes you get what you want. Sometimes you get what you need.”