Welch undecided on amended bailout bill

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(Host) Congressman Peter Welch says he doesn’t know yet how he’ll vote on a revised $700 billion plan to help bail out the nation’s financial services industry.

The measure will come before the U.S. House tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Vermont’s business leaders are sending Welch a mixed message about the need to pass this legislation.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Congressman Welch describes this vote as one of the most difficult he’s faced in his legislative career.

Earlier this week, Welch voted against the bail out plan because he was concerned that it placed too great a burden on taxpayers.

The stock market plunged after that vote and the Senate quickly passed a revised version of the bill that included an extension of middle class and business tax cuts. Senator Patrick Leahy supported it while senator Bernie Sanders voted against it.

Now the House will consider the Senate plan and Welch says he needs to balance several factors as he decides how he’ll vote on the bill:

(Welch) "There is no good or easy decision and it’s not about getting even with Wall Street and the folks that caused this problem we’ve got to do that and there’s got to be accountability but bottom line I think the focus we have to have is how to protect the savings of hard working Vermonters how to protect their jobs how to avoid a recession how to do what’s necessary to give people the best chance to bill their bills and take care of their families and their responsibilities."

The Vermont Business Roundtable represents 120 chief executives of some of Vermont’s most prominent companies.

Lisa Ventriss is the executive director of the group. She says members of Roundtable talked with Welch this week and strongly encouraged him to vote for the new bill:

(Ventress)"So it’s bringing clear examples from Vermont employers to Congressman Welch’s attention so that he understands the urgency of the issue and something needs to be dealt with immediately."

That same consensus doesn’t exist at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. The group’s director is Duane Marsh and he says his members are very split on this legislation:

(Marsh)"If people can get to the point to see where it trickles to their particular business and interests I think they’d be in favor of it, however if they view that it’s not going to trickle down and it’s simply to help a small segment of people then we should not. So I think most people have gone through that process and some of them have gotten to different places based on where they’re at and what industry they’re in."

Although Democratic House leaders are strongly backing the bail out bill, Welch says there’s been very little direct pressure on individual members to support the legislation.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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