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A Report From the House

A spokesman for House Republicans wrote this morning:

Staff negotiations on the economic stability package lasted until about 2:30 this morning and will resume in about an hour…. It appears that some progress is being made on the inclusion of key Republican principles that include tax payer and home owner protections and adoption of some free market points in the final package.

Mr. Blunt, as the Republican’s lead negotiator, [has] reemphasized that fact that Democrats are in charge, they are in the majority and if they want Republicans to help pass this package – as they’ve said – then there will have to be Republican ideals in the legislation (and some unpalatable issues removed).

That Republicans have significant bargaining power, notwithstanding their minority status, is testament to the deep unpopularity of the Democrats’ bailout measure and their consequent need to share responsibility with Republicans in Congress–not just with President Bush, who isn’t running.

Roll Call, meanwhile, reports:

House conservatives are feeling a renewed sense of relevance after a Friday morning Conference meeting. Sources in the meeting said Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) received a standing ovation as he briefed Members on the state of play of the $700 billion bailout proposal.

There was “unanimous support for the leadership and the position they have taken,” the source said. “Not a single Member stood up to object” to GOP leadership efforts to have Wall Street finance part of its own bailout.

Another source said Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), a strong critic of the administration plan, praised leadership for insisting that free-market principles be part of the solution to the financial sector meltdown. He also said he was pleased that Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is now at the table advocating these views. …

[Financial Services ranking member Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.)] said he continues to advocate giving loans to Wall Street firms as opposed to spending taxpayer dollars outright. Administration officials agreed last night to consider this option, he said. …

Bachus said Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) significantly helped GOP Members by returning to the Hill this week because his message was that “House Republicans are relevant” and “we’re not going to roll the House Republicans.”

McCain has “turned the negotiations around” within 48 hours, he said.

Bachus said he told McCain early in the week that it would be helpful if he took part in negotiations on the rescue package. …

It remains to be seen how much impact the House Republicans (and, therefore, McCain) will have in the end, and whether any improvements they can make in the bailout bill will be worth the political pain of associating themselves with it.

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