Congressional leaders are raising questions about efforts by the Bush administration to hurry a $700 billion rescue plan bill through Congress.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and President Bush have been urging Congress to pass the bill quickly,
“Obviously, there will be differences over some details, and we will have to work through them,” Bush said today in a statement about the bailout bill.
“That is an understandable part of the policy making process,” Bush said. “But it would not be understandable if members of Congress sought to use this emergency legislation to pass unrelated provisions, or to insist on provisions that would undermine the effectiveness of the plan.”
Critics of the bailout bill have attacked a provision that appears to state that, “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”
“The Bush administration has called on Congress to rubber stamp its bailout legislation without serious debate or efforts to improve it,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said today on the Senate floor. “That will not happen…. Democrats believe that there should be protection for the taxpayers who are footing the bill for this legislation. That begins with more oversight, more transparency, more accountability and more controls to prevent conflicts of interest.”
The final version of the bailout bill should include limits on executive compensation and limits on how the bill would benefit private shareholders, Paulson said.
The final version also should help Americans who are facing foreclosure, Paulson said.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., says he believes the bailout proposal would maximize returns for Wall Street and minimize protections for the taxpayer.
“The taxpayer is being asked to risk billions to protect the bonuses of investment bankers,” Waxman says.
Congress should insist on executive compensation limits and greater financial transparency, Waxman says.
“We should not give bailouts to firms that continue to conceal their balance sheets from investors and the government,” Waxman says.
At press time, the bailout bill did not have a bill number, and a copy was not available on Thomas, the congressional bill tracking system.
Many news organizations and trade groups have what appear to be leaked versions of the text of the bill.
The following is a text of the Treasury Department rescue plan bill draft posted on the Web site of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, Washington:
LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL FOR TREASURY AUTHORITY TO PURCHASE TROUBLED ASSETS
Sec. 1. Short Title.
This Act may be cited as ____________________.
Sec. 2. Purchases of Troubled Assets.
(a) Authority to Purchase. – The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, Troubled Assets from any Financial Institution, as those terms are defined in section 12 of the Act.
(b) Necessary Actions. – The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:
(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;
(2) entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;
(3) designating Financial Institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;
(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase Troubled Assets and issue obligations; and
(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.
Sec. 3. Considerations.
In exercising the authorities granted in this Act, the Secretary shall take into consideration means for -