HELENA – Rep. Denny Rehberg on Friday voted against the $700 billion government bailout of the battered financial industry, saying he hopes the legislation will work but could not support it.
The House passed the measure 263-171 and sent it to President Bush, who signed it.
“Congress needed to get this right the second time, and get it right quickly,” said Rehberg, who voted against the initial House version of the bill on Monday. “Instead, we faced resistance to any alternatives at every level.”
The president and House leadership presented the plan as “take-it-or-leave-it,” he said. And as a result, Congress ended up with a crisis-management response instead of a comprehensive, workable, long- and short-term solution.
“We needed a solution that created stability, liquidity and confidence, and we needed a framework for reform,” said Rehberg, a Republican. “That was not done in this legislation.”
Rehberg said he agreed that something needed to be done and is hopeful the package will work. But he said he was “ready, willing and able” to spend more time in Washington, D.C., hammering out a better solution.
For one thing, Rehberg said, the bill should have included closer Congressional oversight and incentives for banks, rather than taxpayers, to fund the bailout. And it should have included fundamental reform.
“The relaxation in lending standards was the cause of the housing price bubble in the first place,” Rehberg said. “The blame should be placed squarely on the doorstep of the federal government and the political activists working with it.
“Unless these lending standards are changed, today’s bailout crisis will only be the first with more to come.”
On Thursday, Democratic U.S. House candidate John Driscoll urged Rehberg to vote against the proposal. He told Lee Newspapers of Montana that if Rehberg voted against the bill, he would vote for Rehberg.
“If he does, I hope everybody votes for him for re-election,” Driscoll said.
Rehberg is scheduled to debate Driscoll and his other election opponent, Libertarian Mike Fellows, in Helena on Saturday.
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