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New York Times - 2 Congressmen Manage to Agree That Bailout Is Needed

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Location: New York, NY

New York Times - 2 Congressmen Manage to Agree That Bailout Is Needed

It was one of his few public events since announcing that he would not run again for Congress. But Representative Vito J. Fossella, a Republican, stood alongside his colleague, Representative Gregory W. Meeks, a Democrat, on Tuesday afternoon to call on Congress to rush back to work and pass a bailout package.

"The United States House of Representatives, I don't believe, did the right, responsible thing to help our nation's economy," Mr. Fossella, whose district includes Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, said about the House's rejection of a $700 billion proposal that the White House had negotiated with Congressional leaders of both parties.

"The ordinary American will effectively be paying more to borrow money," Mr. Fossella said, speaking at a news conference on Tuesday in the Wall Street area, with the New York Stock Exchange as a backdrop. "This crisis needs to be fixed and fixed now. We're here today, to call on the rest of our colleagues to get back to work. Let's get this bill passed. Let's get something done that will inject confidence back into the system."

The very fact that the two were having a news conference, together, was in itself notable. Mr. Fossella, a conservative-leaning Republican, and Mr. Meeks, a liberal Democrat from Queens, have seldom appeared together on any occasion and have few areas of agreement politically. And they both said that the fact that they agreed on the bailout plan underscored its importance to the average New Yorkers.

"The issue that's before us right now is not a Democratic issue and it's not a Republican issue," Mr. Meeks said. "It's an issue that we have to resolve so that we can make sure that we stabilize our economy. Everyone is hurting. Right now, what we have to do is to focus on what the best thing for the American people. The right thing is to pass this bill."

The news conference was also notable because Mr. Fossella has rarely spoken in public since May, when he was charged in a Washington suburb with driving while intoxicated. Since then, Mr. Fossella admitted to having fathered a daughter out of wedlock and announced that he would not run this year for a sixth term in Congress.

In recent weeks, Republican leaders have sought ways to get him on the ballot in November, saying that their party's candidate, former Assemblyman Robert A. Straniere, had little support among their party's officials. But Mr. Fossella has maintained that he would not run.

He reiterated that again on Tuesday, when asked if he might be persuaded to run again. He answered it curtly, saying only, "No."

Both congressmen stayed on the theme regarding the need to pass a bailout plan immediately.

"The analogy that comes to mind is that the house is burning," Mr. Fossella said. "Let's put the fire out now and then we can point fingers at as to who's responsible for setting the blaze."

And then — perhaps with a little elbow to the ribs of his colleague? — Mr. Meeks, too, offered his own analogy regarding the fiscal crisis:

Sometimes you have an individual who's drunk and he drives drink and when he gets on the highway, he causes an accident. Now the choice is, you can be can be mad because he drove drunk and just leave him there and allow car to stay there, and allow it to clog up the major thoroughfare. But what you really need to do is to rescue the driver and remove the wreckage.

With that, Mr. Fossella came back to the lectern, adding with a smile, "I liked my analogy better, Greg."

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