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Minnesota's lawmakers divided on bailout plan House nixed

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's U.S. representatives agree Congress needs to help fix the country's financial crisis, but on Monday divided their votes on a $700 billion plan to do that.

Rep. Collin Peterson said congressional leaders need to talk to more lawmakers than they have for the past couple of weeks.

"Clearly, they are going to have to go outside of the circle they have been talking to," remarked Peterson.

He added that the Agriculture Committee that he leads "will be drug into this."

Minnesota's representatives split Monday as the House defeated the plan 228-205. Peterson and fellow Democrat Tim Walz voted against the proposal. They were joined by Republicans Michele Bachmann and Jim Ramstad.

Four Minnesotans voted for the measure -- Republican John Kline and Democrats Jim Oberstar, Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison.

"As it became increasingly clear that the financial crisis facing America was extending beyond Wall Street and threatening the jobs, homes and retirement security of the men and women reporting for work on main streets throughout Minnesota and across America, we were asked to cast our vote for an imperfect, but important, solution," Kline said. "Unfortunately, this bill did not pass, and the crisis continues."

Oberstar warned of consequences on stock markets, starting overseas and continuing when American markets open today.

"I think the confidence of domestic and foreign financial markets will be shaken," Oberstar told reporters.

Democratic and Republican leaders, who agreed to the package, now must talk to their members and see what changes could make the plan more acceptable, Oberstar added. He blamed the White House for not doing enough to win over Republican votes.

"When you're voting on painful issues of this kind the generally agreed upon principle is both parties share the pain," Oberstar said.

Oberstar, dean of Minnesota's congressional delegation, said he understands that Peterson and Walz had "very genuine, very real" concerns about the package.

"The bill we voted on today passes the buck when it comes to recouping the losses taxpayers might suffer," Walz said. "I also regret that this bill does not do enough to help average homeowners, or provide sufficient oversight of Wall Street."

Peterson talked to some members of his Agriculture Committee, known as the House's most bipartisan panel, to find a solution to the impasse.

While some congressmen say changes made to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's original bill improved the plan, Peterson said the Monday version was just "Paulson's plan with a few fig leaves."

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.