House Debates Conditions for Rest of Tarp Funds

Article excerpt

Byline: Stacy Kaper

WASHINGTON - Democrats and Republicans squared off Tuesday over whether the incoming Obama administration should be given the remaining $350 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said he had introduced legislation placing conditions on the money so that lawmakers could have an alternative to vote for over a bill blocking the release of the funds.

"It is important that at least the House of Representatives be able to express its views on this before a resolution of disapproval comes up," the Massachusetts Democrat said. "We believe that if these conditions are met, that will make [Tarp] a very useful thing. We will pass a resolution ... and get a commitment from the president of the united states that he will abide by it."

Rep. Frank warned Democrats thinking of voting against the release of the funds that they would be harming their own priorities. "If we do not get the second $350 billion, I do not believe we get substantial foreclosure relief," he said.

But Republicans said Congress was in danger of throwing good money after bad.

"The second tranche is the continuation of the bailout policy I believe has done little good," said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, the lead Republican on the panel, argued that lawmakers had not had enough time to digest Rep. Frank's bill and that Mr. Obama's request for more Tarp money is too vague. He urged Rep. Frank to delay a vote on the bill.

"We have been given very few specifics about how this money is to be spent and yet we are being asked to vote as early as tomorrow on a 75-page bill introduced three days ago," Rep. Bachus said. "We need to do what's right, not what's popular."

Rep. Frank introduced a bill Friday that the House plans to begin debating today that would earmark at least $40 billion of the Tarp to foreclosure relief and add stronger accountability for banks that receive government money. …