U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite on Wednesday asked Congress to put the brakes on a proposed $700-billion bailout for the nation's crippled financial system.
The Brooksville Republican held a front-row seat for the debate on Capitol Hill about the economic crisis as one of 70 members on the House Financial Services Committee.
Lawmakers pressed Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in the second day of testimony about the controversial Bush administration proposal for the federal government to buy troubled mortgage-backed securities that are creating ruin on Wall Street.
Brown-Waite, who was not available for comment, sent a letter to House leaders questioning the urgency to "rush an economic stability package and once again blindly vote on a hastily written proposal crafted by the current Administration."
The congresswoman — who also sits on subcommittees that oversee capital markets, financial institutions and consumer credit — treaded in safe territory in her first comments about the bailout, sticking to populist themes that are finding growing traction in Washington.
She told House leaders to extend debate about the bill for "at least another week and longer if necessary." Congress planned to adjourn Friday for an election recess so members could return home to campaign for their seats.
But the break apparently doesn't concern Brown-Waite, who faces Democratic challenger John Russell in November. She beat him by 20 percentage points in the 2006 election.
A delay would give Congress the ability to put its stamp on the bill. Like a number of her legislative colleagues, Brown-Waite called for effective oversight for how the money is spent.
"Congress is essentially being asked to write a blank check and then walk away from the table, leaving taxpayers' money in the hands of those people who got us in trouble in the first place," she wrote. "We are being threatened with dire consequence so that we will roll over and comply with the wishes of the Administration."
John Frank can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 754-6114.