WASHINGTON - Congressional leaders made clear Wednesday that they do not want money from the financial industry bailout to boost executives' pay.
The top House Republican and the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate sent letters to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson after reports about how the $700-billion plan might be used.
"Funds made available under the economic rescue package should not be used to pay for bank acquisitions, raises and executive bonuses," wrote House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wrote "to express concern about the level of compensation" for top executives at banks set to receive bailout dollars.
A day earlier, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sought salary information from nine banks selected to receive $125-billion.
The Troubled Assets Relief Program was created as part of the bailout to buy devalued mortgage-backed securities from tottering banks to unclog frozen credit markets. But the legislation also gave the Treasury the power to make direct stock investments in financial institutions.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has asked nine banks that are getting a piece of the Wall Street bailout to turn over information about how they are spending money on executive bonuses. Cuomo said Wednesday that the bailout has essentially made taxpayers shareholders in these companies, and banks have a duty to be upfront with the public about huge bonuses.