WASHINGTON — Maine’s Democratic Reps. Mike Michaud and Tom Allen repeated their Monday votes on Friday as the House approved 263-71 the Senate version of the $700 billion financial rescue plan.
Michaud, who voted against the House plan that failed on Monday, again cast a no vote while Allen again voted for the government bailout.
“I am not surprised in the vote but I am very disappointed,” Michaud said after the vote. “It’s a travesty. I do believe we had to act swiftly but this bill is deeply flawed. It did little to change the White House plan.”
Michaud, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of Democratic lawmakers, said he regretted the House Rules Committee, in charge of deciding how and when a bill comes to the floor, refused to add amendments to the Senate bill, which he said lacks sufficient protection for taxpayers.
“If we were able to have amendments, they would have passed,” he said. “There were some good ideas in the air. Now, we have superficial safeguards and they know it.”
Allen said in a statement that the House “took necessary action.”
“I believe that Congress acted today in the best manner possible to protect Mainers and all Americans from further financial deterioration,” he said. “I am proud to have worked with members from both parties to build consensus and pass this critically important legislation.”
U.S House members cheered with applause as the House approved the Senate version of the bailout plan early Friday afternoon. In a rather unusual move, President Bush signed the bill just two hours later.
Allen and Michaud each said the Senate added too many extra provisions to the bill, such as $110 billion in tax breaks.
“The Senate did not provide sufficient offsets for these measures, increasing the deficit even further,” Allen said. “Our national debt has skyrocketed over the past eight years, contributing to the situation we are in today, and it is time to reverse that trend.”
Michaud also underscored the fact that the plan will put the budget debt limit to $11.3 trillion, whereas the country already faces huge trade deficits and high costs with Medicare and Social Security.
“As a nation, we are putting ourselves in a very tough situation,” Michaud said. “People are suffering, they have problems putting oil in their tanks yet we are going to spend $700 billion to bail out these large corporations.”
Both Maine representatives said they hope the new Congress will improve oversight and taxpayer safeguards when it comes to the financial markets.
“We must change the way that Wall Street has been operating so that Main Street can prosper once again,” Allen said. “This bill is just the first step in rebuilding our economy. Congress must continue to evaluate and modernize financial regulations to ensure that a similar situation will not reoccur.”
“It is definitely time for a change,” Michaud said. “I will be looking forward to putting corporate governance on top of the agenda as well as a new trade policy. There is too much greed on Wall Street and K Street. The American people are fed up.”
K Street in Washington is where many lobbyists have their offices.