GOP Stalls House Action on Housing Bailout; Bush Threatens Veto Powers
Byline: S.A. Miller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
House Republicans dragged the chamber to a standstill yesterday with procedural moves to protest Democrats' attempt to ram through passage of foreclosure-crisis and war-funding bills, as President Bush threatened to veto both legislative packages and urged Congress to take up a compromise agenda.
Republican lawmakers, who called more than a dozen time-consuming votes to adjourn, said Democratic leaders used backroom maneuvers to cut the minority out of the legislative process.
They accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, of breaking her pledge to run the "most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history."
"Our voices have been silenced - sad day," Rep. Judy Biggert, Illinois Republican, said on the House floor.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said he missed the point of the Republicans protests.
"This is a crowd that has put the country deeply in a hole from a deficit standpoint, from an international policy standpoint and is very unpopular," the Maryland Democrat said. "For lack of substantive policy being offered, they are offering motions to adjourn."
The partisan gridlock on the House floor foreshadowed the standoff brewing between the White House and the Democrat-led Congress over the housing crisis, troop funding and energy policy in the final year of the Bush presidency.
The protest stalled consideration of Democrats' bills to stanch the home-foreclosure crisis with measures that include $300 billion worth of government-backed mortgage refinancing and $15 million in federal grants and loans for states to buy derelict homes.
It also threatened to delay a vote scheduled for today on a $184 billion war-funding bill that Mr. Bush said he will veto if Democrats carry out plans to load it with election-year domestic spending and attach conditions to alter war policy.
The only part of the Democratic housing plan embraced by the Bush administration are proposals to expand the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and to revamp government lending institutions such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, measures called for by Mr. Bush in his State of the Union address in January.
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said the housing debate has turned into a "one-sided Democratic monologue" about how to reward real-estate speculators, bail out irresponsible lenders and force honest taxpayers to underwrite the reckless actions of others.
"The federal government is already the worst landlord in America, thanks to Democrats," he said. …