How Minnesota's delegation voted on the bailoutby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
Minnesota's congressional representatives split their votes on the $700 billion rescue bill for the financial services industry. The U.S. House rejected the measure this afternoon.
Washington D.C. — Half of Minnesota's eight-member congressional delegation voted for the bill, and the other half voted against it. But the vote didn't fall along party lines.
DFLers Tim Walz and Collin Peterson joined Republicans Jim Ramstad and Michele Bachmann in opposing the bill.
DFLers Jim Oberstar, Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison, and Republican John Kline, voted in favor.
Bachmann, who criticized the package when it was first announced last week, says she hopes a solution can still be reached.
"There's a better way than President Bush's way to go forward, and we want that opportunity to work together," said Bachmann. "This is a big, big vote because it would saddle the American taxpayer with a lot of debt to pay back in the future. Before we jump to conclusions, we really need to get good information. And not just get a decision but get the decision right."
Democrat Collin Peterson agreed, saying he's not confident the bill would address the underlying problem in the markets.
Peterson chairs the House Agriculture Committee, which oversees the futures market. He said Congress needs to tighten regulations of the financial instruments that led to the crisis in the first place.
"Thirty-one of my 45 [committee] members voted against this bill," Peterson said. "If they can address our concerns, they have the potential of reviving this."
Peterson said lawmakers are working on getting an agreement by the end of the week.
DFLer Tim Walz said he voted against the bill because it didn't have tough enough oversight in it. He said many of his constituents expressed concern that the bill was a giveaway to wealthy Wall Street executives.
"Nobody's denying that this liquidity and credit market ... has dried up has to be restarted again. I'm just not convinced that a massive infusion from the top is going to do it," said Walz. "The trickle-down economic theory has gotten us into this. I'm not sure that it's going to get us out."
But as Walz said he was protecting Main Street with his vote, others warned that big problems are coming.
"Main Street is only starting to understand the gravity of it because it's been insulated from them," said Republican Rep. John Kline, who voted for the bill.
Kline said, like most of his constituents, he had difficulty voting to spend taxpayer money to bail out Wall Street. But he said failing to do so would have an impact on every Minnesotan if the stock market continues to decline and the credit markets seize up.
"The gigantic problem isn't just that some big Wall Street firm will fail. The gigantic problem is that there won't be credit that you need for all of these things that affect Main Street, and that's the problem," said Kline. "When we start losing jobs because companies can't borrow money to keep their businesses running on a day-to-day basis, then Main Street will definitely feel pain."
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison said that's already occurring. Ellison cited a lifelong friend as he gave his speech in favor of the bailout on the House floor. He said that friend, who lives in Detroit, couldn't get a line of credit to meet her payroll.
"This kind of problem is breathing throughout the economy. That's why the unemployment rate is at 6.2 percent," said Ellison. "We could wait to see the pain and then be motivated to act, but do you really want to see 8 percent or 9 percent unemployment?"
DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar spoke forefully on behalf of the measure on the House floor today. He said he's hopeful a bill will be passed into law, but only if a greater number of House Republicans vote for it. He said those worried about the market should take a deep breath.
"I think the general principal is, don't sell low. Buy low and sell high," Oberstar said. "This is a very volatile moment, and whoever has a stake in the stock market ought to take a little more patience."
DFL Congresswoman Betty McCollum said she would have liked to see more Republicans and Democrats vote for the bill. She said she's concerned that today's drop in the market is only the beginning.
"That would be a fear that if the market continues to drop again tomorrow, and if the Asian markets and the European markets fall, I don't see how our market goes up," McCollum said. "This is very very serious."
Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad did not return calls for this report. It isn't clear when the House will take another vote on the plan.
It isn't clear when the House will take another vote on the plan, however House leaders say they will reconvene the members on Thursday.