Salazar votes for package; Allard in ‘no’ minority

The Colorado senator leaving office this year voted against what was billed as an emergency economic rescue, while the senator who faces voters in two years voted for it.

Sen. Wayne Allard, a Republican ending an 18-year career in Congress, cast one of the 25 votes against the measure, which could commit as much as $700 billion for the beleaguered financial-services industry.

Sen. Ken Salazar, a first-term Democrat who faces voters in two years, voted in favor of the measure, which now goes to the House for a vote scheduled Friday.

“Congress held no hearings, nor did it use a process to provide a reasonable assurance that this proposal would even work,” Allard said in a statement after the vote. “I am unwilling to leave a huge legacy of debt for generations to come without confidence that it would be worth the price.”

Salazar said the bill was far from perfect, but that it was necessary.

“The American people are angry and frustrated that the economy has reached this point,” Salazar said.

“Middle-class families are being asked to tackle a problem that is not of their own making. But I believe the risks of doing nothing are too great.”

The measure did contain several provisions that Salazar said were important to have in the final product.

A middle-class tax cut, deductions for college tuition, relief from the alternative-minimum tax and extensions of tax advantages for renewable energy made the final measure palatable, Salazar said.

The renewable-energy provisions were among the attractive features Allard cited.

Allard said before the vote that he harbored misgivings about the bill, which raised the nation’s debt limit to $11.3 trillion, and about several unrelated measures, such as one that would require insurers to provide mental-health benefits.

“I don’t like idea of the government owning business, but it may be necessary,” Allard said. “I can understand the need for some provision on a temporary basis only.”

Among the provisions that made the measure palatable to Salazar were oversight requirements aimed at protecting the taxpayer and ability for homeowners in trouble to make alternative arrangements with the federal government, he said.

Limits on executive compensation also were an important feature, he said.

The gravity of the credit crisis forced his hand, Salazar said.

“Pensions and retirement savings are hanging in the balance. Small businesses are worrying that their credit will dry up and they won’t be able to make payroll. Young families are worrying they won’t be able to borrow money for their first home,” he said.

Anecdotally, he was told that a car dealership had to lay off employees because it otherwise would be unable to make payroll, Salazar said.


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