For more than a year, Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd has been at the epicenter of everything having to do with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac meltdown.
But when the Bush administration gave him a heads up on Friday that it was about to seize control of the mortgage giants, he was caught off guard.
"I was led to believe that this was something that started over the weekend, but now I believe this was started weeks ago," Dodd said in a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon. "... I'd be hard pressed to find out this all happened Friday afternoon."
Dodd and other leading Democrats were surprised that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson exercised his takeover authority so quickly after Congress gave him that power in the housing bill passed this summer. Now, Dodd is demanding that Paulson appear before the Banking Committee for a hearing to investigate how the decision was made, because clearly Congress was left in the dark.
Paulson had been getting along famously with congressional Democrats this year, engineering a major economic stimulus bill in January while helping negotiate the housing bill earlier this year. But now the relationship seems shaky.
"I'm not opposed to this [the federal seizure] but I want to know more," Dodd said. "I'm going to be much more cautious this time around ... fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."