- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

House Republicans are planning to vote against President Bush’s request to release the second $350 billion under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Minority Leader John Boehner said Wednesday morning.

Mr. Bush, at the urging of President-elect Obama, earlier this week asked Congress for the additional chunk of TARP funds so that Mr. Obama would have them on hand by the time he takes office next week. But Republican leaders say that would be irresponsible when it is still unclear how the first half of the money has been spent.

“Until I know how we spent it, why we spent it and where it is, and how it’s going to be paid back, it would be irresponsible for me to vote for the next $350 billion,” Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said after a closed-door meeting with House Republicans. Mr. Boehner voted in favor of the $700 billion financial bailout and said he would do it again, but called Mr. Obama’s request “premature.”

“We don’t know what the demonstrated need is for the next $350 [billion], nor do we know what their plan is for using it. And so I do think this request is premature, and I and most of my colleagues on the Republican side will oppose it,” he said.

Mr. Obama, who will be sworn in next Tuesday, was on Capitol Hill this week lobbying Senate Democrats to vote in favor of releasing the remaining TARP funds. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he expects the chamber to release the money.

In the House, Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has proposed restrictions on how the second chunk of the funds would be used.

In a Wednesday morning appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared to indicate that Congress would approve the incoming president’s request, since the money would be spent by “a president who’ll enforce the law.” But she stopped short of predicting that Congress would vote to release the funds.

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