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Pa. Congressman Shuster votes for mortgage bailout bill today

October 03, 2008

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster voted against the $700 billion federal mortgage bailout earlier this week, but announced late this morning that he would vote for the bill coming before the House this afternoon.

The bill passed the House by a 263-171 margin and was promptly signed by President Bush.

"My constituents feel the pain ... and the pain will manifest itself as job losses," Shuster, R-9th, said of the crisis in financial markets. The version the House is voting on is virtually the same as that passed by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday night, he said.

Shuster defended his vote against the version the House narrowly defeated Monday, with 133 Republicans and 95 Democrats voting no. The Senate bill before the house is much improved, he said. That includes raising deposit insurance from $100,000 to $250,000; accounting changes in how the Securities Exchange Commission evaluates real estate; more oversight by the General Accounting Office and "some very positive tax cuts."

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The treasury secretary will initially have access to $350 billion to buy distressed mortgages orĂ‚  stocks, Shuster said. The secretary will have to come back to Congress for approval at the end of November for the rest of the money.

Tax breaks, including $6 million for manufacturers of children's wooden arrows, are not the same as pork, Shuster said. Although he did not agree with all the tax breaks in the bill, they will preserve jobs in many communities, he said.

"I share the anger of my constituents ... They're being forced into a financial crisis by Wall Street greed" and mismanagement by FreddieMac and FannieMae, he said. Asked about punishing those responsible for the crisis, Shuster said, "The house is burning. We're going to put the fire out first and then find out who set the fire."

This was as good as the bill was going to get, Shuster said. If it were not approved, the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate would craft and pass a bill without GOP input, he said.

"Let's not let the perfect get in the way of the necessary," Shuster said. Calls to his office are still overwhelmingly against passage of the bailout, he said.

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