How one state's delegation wrestled with bailout bill

McClatchy NewspapersSeptember 30, 2008 

WASHINGTON — Texans from the left and right voted against the $700 billion bailout Monday, telling the story of the bill's defeat: Only nine of the state's 32 House members voted for the bill.

"I voted 'yes’ because I felt like it was our responsibility to change the way things are looking [in the markets]. I hope I'm wrong on this one," Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, said in an interview. Calling it the toughest vote of her 12-year House career, Granger said, "You have to vote your conscience and that's what I did. I didn't like the bill but I thought it was better than voting 'no.' "

That view put her in her party's minority, with only 65 House Republicans joining the GOP leadership.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, a leader of those opposing the bill, said, "Today, I was asked to bend my beliefs, forget my promises and ignore my people, and I said 'no.' My fellow Republicans joined me voting against this massive bailout by a 2-to-1 margin.

"This was no easy vote. The compromise bill wasn't all bad, but in its final version, it failed to give taxpayers the protection they deserve."

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., blamed Republicans for not delivering more members. Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, blamed her for giving a partisan speech during the debate.

The debate prompted some colorful rhetoric from the Texas contingent opposed to the bill.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, warned that the bill making the government the "guarantor of last resort" puts us on "a slippery slope to socialism."

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, said, "I understand we are under martial law, as declared by the speaker. We're going to be asked to vote for a bill for political cover because Democrats are too weak to stand up to their speaker."

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Surfside, said, "This is going to destroy the dollar," and Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, said "New York City fat cats expect Joe Sixpack to suck it up" and foot the bill for their excesses. "I think not."

And Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, criticized the power given to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, whom he deemed "King Henry."

Texas' Democratic lawmakers were equally outspoken. Eight of the 13 voted against the bill.

"I did not receive one call or e-mail in favor of it," Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, said. "I'm in a safe district, but I still have to represent those folks. It's a hard sell in our districts."

Green wanted a bankruptcy provision that was removed from the bill which would enable bankruptcy judges to renegotiate mortgage terms. Putting it back in the bill, he said, might get his vote.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, railed against the bill: "Like the Iraq war and the Patriot Act, this bill is fueled by fear and hinges on haste.  . . . Not even Avon and Mary Kay can compete with the cosmetics in this bill."

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