Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tensions Between Bush White House and House Republicans

The unexpected opposition from House Republicans on Thursday had thrown into chaos efforts to craft a rescue package for the financial markets. Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, after working with the Bush White House for several days on details, said they felt blindsided by the Republican move.

The face-off reflected years of tension between the Bush White House and House Republicans, and exposed the ideological differences within the Republican Party over the role of government in free markets.

President George W. Bush, who urged lawmakers to "rise to the occasion" Friday, has said his first instinct is to not intervene in the market. But he became convinced of the need after Mr. Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that the financial crisis could spread to Main Street from Wall Street and throw the country into a deep recession.

Many Senate Republicans, including Bob Bennett of Utah and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, have tried to be supportive of the White House's efforts to find common ground with Democrats. But conservatives who dominate the Republican Party's caucus in the House have been less amenable, particularly those disaffected with the Bush administration's sizable domestic spending and the realities of life as a minority party. Rep. Tom Davis (R., Va.) said Republicans have felt like "bystanders" the past two years and wanted to be brought into the negotiations as full partners. Democrats "have got to come and meet us halfway," he said.

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