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Region’s House members vote 6-5 against $700 billion plan

Sat., Oct. 4, 2008

The second vote this week on the $700 billion Wall Street bailout would have failed again had it been left to U.S. representatives from Washington and Idaho.

Combined, the states’ six Democrats and five Republicans voted 6-5 against the measure, which won enough support from elsewhere in the nation to pass. The split in the Northwest delegation crossed party lines.

Washington Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dave Reichert and Doc Hastings voted no. In Idaho, Rep. Bill Sali voted no while fellow Republican Mike Simpson voted yes. Four of Washington’s six Democrats voted in favor of the plan, but Reps. Jay Inslee and James McDermott voted against it. Supporting the plan were Reps. Norm Dicks, Adam Smith, Rick Larsen and Brian Baird.

McMorris Rodgers, who faces Democrat Mark Mays in the November election, said the Senate version of the bill had its pluses – including restoration of payments to rural schools and counties to offset lost tax revenues on federal lands – but the bailout fails to fix the problem that led the country into financial crisis.

“I’m still unconvinced that the package … is the right approach and the best deal for taxpayers,” she said. “I believe when faced with such great economic challenges, we owe it to the taxpayers to actually solve the problem for the long term. I am not convinced this bill addresses the root causes of the problem, one of those being the subprime lending situation.”

Mays, of Spokane, said McMorris Rodgers voted wrong.

“It was a horrible, unfair bill that puts the burden on taxpayers … and I would have voted for it,” Mays said. “Sometimes you have to vote for something horrible to avoid something that is catastrophic. I think it’s very important for people to know that this is merely an emergency procedure … but it is not the solution.”

Hastings said the bailout provisions didn’t change, so he didn’t change his earlier vote.

“It lacked hard and fast protections to ensure taxpayers don’t foot the $700 billion bill when options for having Wall Street pay were available,” he said in a statement. “I recognize the economic difficulties that businesses and institutions are facing, and like Americans across our country, I’m mad as hell that the reckless actions of Wall Street created this situation.”

Sali, who faces Democrat Walt Minnick in the November election, said it’s fundamentally wrong to mortgage future generations to pay off the $700 billion.

“Unfortunately, it seems much more certain that this bailout will not work and generations of Americans will pay for this colossal mistake,” Sali said in a statement. “When the prior bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns and AIG are added, the price tag for taxpayers goes over $1 trillion.

“It is ill-conceived to suggest that a problem caused by irresponsible borrowing of money can be cured by more irresponsible borrowing from our children and grandchildren.”

Rod Schneidmiller, founder of Spokane Valley-based Sterling International, which makes yellow-jacket traps, joined a conference call with McMorris Rodgers in condemning the bill.

“It’s ludicrous,” he said of the bill’s passage. “The answer in government now is to just throw money … to the same culprits that got us in this mess. I don’t know what planet people are on. That doesn’t make sense at all.”


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