US House begins debate on revised finance rescue plan

October 3rd, 2008 - 11:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 3 (DPA) The US House of Representatives Friday began 90 minutes of debate on the new version of the finance rescue plan, but in a mood of resignation about the politically unpopular bail-out of Wall Street. Representative Charles Rangel of New York began the speech, saying the Congress was acting on the $700-billion rescue plan “with a political pistol at our heads”.

Congress has received tens of thousands of phone calls from angry voters who oppose using tax money to rescue the economy from what President George W. Bush has warned would be a long and painful recession.

But House Republican leader John Boehner was optimistic that there were enough votes to pass the new plan, after Republicans and some Democrats formed enough of a majority to kill the plan Monday.

Boehner and Representative Roy Blunt, who has been the main negotiator focussed on bringing Republicans on board, told reporters before debate began that the call volume had shifted and evened out, with many people now calling to urge passage of the plan.

He said they were calling out of worry for their pensions, their retirement investment plans and their ability to get credit at the bank.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Thursday vowed not to take the bill to the floor unless she was sure of the votes.

The Senate adopted the revised legislation Wednesday night in a 74-25 vote, after it was sweetened with a year-long increase in government-backed guarantees for bank deposits from $100,000 to $250,000, extensions of tax credits for renewable energy and small businesses and tax changes that will benefit the middle class.

But some House Republicans objected to some of the sweeteners, which included non-related items such as requiring health insurers to provide parity of coverage for mental illness as well as physical ailments and removing an excise tax from a company in Oregon that makes wooden arrow shafts.

The original three-page bill submitted by the White House two weeks ago has grown to 450 pages, the New York Times reported.

Representative Steven LaTourette of Ohio Thursday told reporters that he was encountering stiff resistance in a campaign to convince 20 Republicans who voted no Monday to change to yes.

“The number $700 billion continues to be difficult,” he said. “It’s difficult because nobody can seem to explain why the secretary (US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson) needs $700 billion.”

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