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House GOP Leaders Frustrated With Lack Of Consultation On Bailouts

House Republican leaders were frustrated Wednesday at what they called the administration’s lack of congressional consultation on the recent financial bailouts.

“The communication lines are not operating efficiently,” said House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam of Virginia.

Late Tuesday night, the administration announced an $85 billion rescue of insurance giant American International Group, the second major bailout of the week in a deepening financial crisis.

“Our caucus doesn’t feel like they understand the coherent strategy [of the administration], if there is one,” said House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

Many Republicans said they were caught off guard by Tuesday’s AIG deal, even though both Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had come to the Capitol Tuesday evening to brief lawmakers a few hours before it was announced.

“There is confidence in Bernanke, but that reservoir is not limitless,” Putnam said. “People need to understand what the guiding principles are behind this ad hoc strategy.”

“How do you decide that AIG is worthy of a bailout, but Lehman Brothers is not?” Putnam asked. “There has to be some better understanding of that.”

And the lack of communication does not seem to just be a Republican concern, either. Earlier this week, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) wondered why Paulson had canceled an appearance before his committee, but still found time to deliver a speech at a think tank on the same day.