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Republican Senator Attempts to Block Release of $250 Billion

(Update 1 reflects a statement issued by Vitter's office.) Senator David Vitter, R-La., on Tuesday introduced a measure to block the release of the second half of the $700 TARP funds, his aide said, according to a Reuters bulletin. Vitter in the past has vocalized his hesitation surrounding the bailout funds and in particular, the domestic automaker bailout. On Monday, he released a statement acknowledging President George W. Bush's request that Congress release the additional $250 billion, saying "congressional action is not required to release the remainder of these funds." He said an action that would be allowed is the congressional passage of a "disapproval resultion" to prevent the release of the money, and Vitter said he plans "on leading an effort to do just that," and to ensure that any more money given to the Treasury Department will be used effectively. "When I publicly opposed the first bailout back in September, I did so because I was concerned that it would lead us down a slippery slope and encourage further bailouts. By now, it is clear that it has," he said Monday. "Since then, we’ve bailed out mismanaged auto companies, and now we are seeing a move in Congress to ensure that the entire $700 billion authorization will be spent.... I continue to oppose these bailouts, and I believe that responsible action demands some form of oversight." The motion of disapproval comes as President Bush has asked Congress to release the rest of the TARP money on behalf of President-elect Barack Obama, who has said he would like to avoid taking office Jan. 20 without the appropriate financial ammunition, should a major financial disaster occur. Regulators on both sides of the aisle are now emerging with endorsements and objections. House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., on Friday released proposed legislation to reform the TARP and increase program accountability. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Monday also endorsed releasing the rest of the TARP funds under Frank’s proposed legislation, specifically praising the requirement within Frank’s proposal that at least part of the TARP funds be required to go to helping homeowners, saying overall the legislation will ensure the rest of the funds come “with clear and specific strings attached.” Write to Diana Golobay at diana.golobay@housingwire.com.

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