House Republicans emerged upbeat--if not fully convinced-- from a closed door meeting with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Wednesday morning, just a day after a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney on the bailout plan was described as a “bloodbath.”
“Our discussions today were significantly better than yesterday,” House Minority Whip Roy Blunt told reporters after the meeting. “There was more talk of helping main street instead of Wall Street. There was a focus on what I think are better terms of how you work out the problems of the bailout.”
Rep. Spencer Bachus, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, agreed that the meeting went better, saying: “There is a realization that we have to do something and we can’t leave town until we do.”
However, serious hurdles remain before many skeptical Republicans can be convinced of the need to spend $700 billion.
While the tenor of this meeting was much friendlier than Tuesday’s session with the vice president, lawmakers still spent more time offering alternatives or articulating their criticism of the Treasury plan than asking Paulson about his proposal, those present said.
Another senior House Republican aide said there were still many skeptics in the room.
House Minority Leader John Boehner acknowledged that the American people are still “furious” that Congress has to put up $700 billion to avoid the crisis.
“It is clear, the battle we are in is about understanding how difficult the crisis is and trying to understand, will this plan in fact work,” Boehner said.
“Frankly, this is a very difficult process.”