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US House Lawmakers Register Their Disgust With TARP

The Wall Street Journal

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WASHINGTON, DC, January 22, 2009 | Kate Thompson ((202)225-3035) | comments
U.S. lawmakers registered their deep disgust with the $700 billion financial rescue Wednesday in a series of symbolic votes on the House floor.
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By JESSICA HOLZER
U.S. lawmakers registered their deep disgust with the $700 billion financial rescue Wednesday in a series of symbolic votes on the House floor.

They voted 260-166 to attach a series of tough restrictions to the Troubled Asset Relief Program, including requiring that tens of billions of TARP funds be devoted to foreclosure relief and imposing far stricter oversight of how the money is deployed by banks.

Meanwhile, House Republicans forced a vote on a motion to kill TARP and require the Treasury Secretary to recoup any funds already dispersed under the program. It failed on a 199-228 vote, largely along party lines, though 27 Democrats joined Republicans to support the measure.

The moves won't have any practical effect because the Senate already voted last week to release the remaining $350 billion of rescue funds to the new Obama Treasury with no new conditions. Under the original TARP legislation, only one chamber's support is required to grant Treasury access to the funds.

However, they reveal lawmakers' growing contempt for the program, which has become deeply unpopular with the American public. This could pose a problem for the Obama administration if it becomes forced to ask Congress for more rescue funds.

Officials from the new Obama team have already vowed to make many of the changes to the program that have been demanded by lawmakers.

Another GOP motion, offered by Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, would have required the Treasury Secretary to return the $350 billion of rescue funds to the Treasury and grant a two-month tax holiday. Gohmert said his motion, which was deemed non-germaine and defeated by a 251-176 vote, would allow U.S. taxpayers "to bail out the economy."

Another House vote to kill the TARP program is expected on Thursday.


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