POLITICS
02/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

House GOP Throws Down Gauntlet, Will Oppose Obama-Backed Bailout Funding

House Republicans are determined to oppose the release of the second half of the financial-industry bailout funds, a GOP House leadership aide tells the Huffington Post.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) will work to persuade members to vote to oppose releasing the funds -- an enviable task, considering the unpopularity of the bailout.

The Republican conference position makes approval of the release of the funds difficult for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other House Democrats, many of whom opposed the original dispersal.

While debating the first two bailout votes, Pelosi insisted that Democrats would not pass the bill without bipartisan support. The markets, she said, needed to have confidence that both parties were working together to rescue the financial system. Politically, Democrats wanted to share responsibility for a bailout that was unpopular with the public.

House Republicans obliged; Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) took to the floor and nearly wept as he pleaded with his members to support the $700 billion package. On the second vote, enough did.

On Monday, Boehner announced that he would be personally opposing the release of the rest of the funds, though he stopped short of calling on his colleagues to do the same. "I remain disappointed about the way TARP has been managed and how its resources have been spent over the last several months. From the outset, the program has been implemented with too little transparency and in a manner inconsistent with the way it was presented to Congress last fall. Until officials can present a clear plan to Congress -- and, most importantly, to taxpayers -- demonstrating how the expenditure of additional TARP funds will benefit our economy and making clear an exit strategy for getting the government back out of the private sector, it would be irresponsible for Congress to release the remainder of these resources. I will oppose the release of these taxpayer funds when the matter is considered on the House floor," Boehner said.

The unpopular bailout has only become less popular over the last few months, as banks and the Treasury Department have refused to reveal details as to how the taxpayer money -- or, more accurately, future taxpayers' money -- has been spent.

Republican opposition, however, is a political freebie: the president will still get the money. He can veto congressional disapproval of the funds; House Democrats then need only 144 votes to sustain such a veto and authorize the money's release without any Republican consent. If they do, however, they may earn the sole political ownership of the bailout they fought so hard to avoid.

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