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Lawmakers say they’re out of the loop

- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2008

DEVELOPING:

Lawmakers from both parties are complaining they've been kept out of the loop as the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department have struggled to contain Wall Street's exploding financial crisis.

A closed-door briefing for House Republicans on the federal rescue operations for giant insurer American International Group and other recent Treasury moves was canceled Thursday after the White House called off plans to send someone to address the gathering, according to House Minority Leader John Boehner, Ohio Republican, said.

"All of us on Capitol Hill lack the information we need on what has occurred," said Mr. Boehner. Even as a top congressional leader, he added, "I'm getting a telephone call just a few minutes before it happens."

Georgia Rep. Tom Price was one of a number conservatives Republicans who questioned the wisdom of the bailouts of AIG and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and demanded more "transparency" from administration policymakers and the Federal Reserve.

"We should be able to closely examine the apparent collusion between the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, a collaboration that has taken place without the knowledge of Congress," Mr. Price said.

With credit markets seizing up, major investment banks reeling and world stock markets taking a beating, many lawmakers were reluctant to criticize the rescue plan fashioned by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for the AIG bailout.

"It's not for me to second-guess in the middle of a crisis," said Mr. Boehner, but he was clearly uncomfortable with the need for such a huge government intervention into the market.

"I am always concerned when taxpayer funds are being put at risk," he said.

While the recent government rescue plans involved "sensitive" issues, he said, "members of Congress also have a responsibility to be able to explain to their constituents what is being done with their tax money."