LaHood: Congress did the right thing in bailout

Adriana Colindres

The U.S. Congress "did the right thing" in approving a $700 billion bailout plan for the nation's financial industry, U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood said after Friday's 263-171 vote in the House of Representatives.

"I really believe, at least for now, we've saved the economy in America," said LaHood, R-Peoria.

Friday's outcome marked a reversal for the House, which four days earlier rejected a different version of the bailout. The tally then was 205 in favor and 228 against.

LaHood voted yes both times, as did Rep. Phil Hare, D-Rock Island. Reps. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, and Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, voted no both times. Rep. Jerry Weller, a Morris Republican who missed the first vote, supported the plan on Friday.

All of them represent portions of central Illinois.

Because the U.S. Senate passed the bailout plan earlier in the week, the House vote sent the measure directly to President Bush, and he quickly signed it into law.

LaHood said he thinks a combination of factors led to House passage of the once-spurned plan.

"I don't think there's any one thing you can pin it on. But I think people are scared, and it's not a false scare," he said.

It probably won't be clear for a couple of months whether the bailout plan worked as intended, LaHood added.

But he said the action could ease some consumer worries, especially when it comes to holiday shopping.

"If we hadn't done this, I don't know that people would have spent any money at Christmas time. We might have saved the Christmas shopping season for the merchants," he said.

Weller and Hare issued news releases that explained their yes votes.

"Ultimately, when weighing the cost of doing nothing against passing this flawed bill, it became clear that the price of inaction on the part of the House was too great," said Weller.

"We must do something to restore confidence in the credit market and the everyday marketplace," he added. "Frankly, time has run out for Congress to consider other options."

Hare said: "This package is not a bailout. It is a loan that requires taxpayers to be paid back in full. It has strict independent oversight provisions and limits on executive compensation."

"This rescue package is not perfect. But it is necessary."

Shimkus also issued a news release about his ongoing opposition to the plan.

"While I know that we need to take steps to help our economy improve, I don't think spending $700 billion on a Wall Street bailout is the way to do it. We were not given the opportunity to vote on any other options," he said.

"And no one knows with certainty that this plan will solve the real problems our economy is facing."

Adriana Colindres can be reached