The American people won an historic victory with the defeat of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act designed to nationalize the American financial markets in response to the crisis driven by the sub-prime mortgage meltdown.
In a 228-205 vote, 95 Democrats and 133 Republicans voted against the bailout while 140 Democrats and 65 Republicans voted in support of the legislation.
Speaking outside the House chamber after the vote, Republican leaders pointed to a pre-vote bitterly partisan floor speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blaming Republicans for the financial crisis as a strong factor in the outcome. Deputy House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) noted, “Speaker Pelosi’s speech… struck the tone of partisanship that, frankly, was inappropriate in this discussion… I think that this is a case of a failure of Speaker Pelosi to listen not only to her members, but certainly to our members and the common bonds that brought our members together on this very, very important issue facing the American people.”
At the same presser, House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) spoke of the time constraints and unfulfilled promises of bi-partisanship behind closed doors. Blunt said, “During this whole process, the tone in the room was so much better than the tone outside the room… we’re not in the majority in the Congress that failed to act today. And we need to reach back out to that majority. And hopefully, they will allow us to be part of a solution, rather than continuing to pursue a partisan discussion.”
One of the House conservatives working against the bill, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), said in a written statement, “The American people rejected this corporate bailout and today the People’s House did likewise…There are alternatives to the massive federal bailout that Congress rejected. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both parties to develop a response to this crisis that puts taxpayers first and preserves the essential freedom of the American marketplace.”
Another House conservative opposed to the bill, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), told me in a phone interview, “The partisan comments did not help. They inflamed some on the fence. We had this expensive bill thrown at us… that gave hundreds of billions of dollars over to the control of one person, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.” Concerns over the lack of any sort of substantive restriction on how that funding could be disbursed formed the basis for Gohmert’s opposition. “Paulson needs to stop fear-mongering and let the American people know that we are working on a solution,” Gohmert said.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in the Democrat presser following the vote managed to say with a straight face, “I am available… to continue conversations but we do ask that there be better coordination on the Republican side so we have a chance to put something together that can pass Congress.” Democrats could have passed the bill outright — no Republican votes were needed. The defeat of the bill just as surely rested on the 95 Democrats who voted against the bill.
In remarks on the campaign trail in Iowa, John McCain said, “Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process. Now is not the time to fix the blame. It’s time to fix the problem.”
McCain-Palin senior policy adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin released a statement for the campaign: “Barack Obama failed to lead, phoned it in, attacked John McCain, and refused to even say if he supported the final bill. Just before the vote, when the outcome was still in doubt, Speaker Pelosi gave a strongly worded partisan speech and poisoned the outcome. This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country.”
Chad Pergram, Fox News senior producer for the House, had reported all morning prior to the vote that there were not under any circumstances more than 70 Republican votes for this measure at any time. Pelosi did not give a speech that would build confidence and gain passage of the bill, and apparently, she miscounted her own party’s vote or didn’t bother to count them at all. As a result, America wins. For now.
The complete vote tallies and totals are found here.