All the extra sweetening that the Senate put into the $700 billion rescue bill for financial institutions was still not enough to lure the support of Reps. Rob Bishop or Jim Matheson when the House finally passed that bill on Friday.

Both opposed it this time, just as they did when the House initially rejected the bailout on Monday. On the other hand, Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, again supported the bailout — as Sens. Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch also did earlier this week in the Senate.

Matheson, D-Utah, and Republican Bishop face re-election next month. Cannon was already defeated in the primary election, so he does not. And neither Bennett nor Hatch face election this year.

Bishop said that thousands of voter calls to his office were "overwhelmingly against it (the bailout) and very passionate. But I tried to take that equation out of the picture. I really wanted to do the right thing regardless of other ramifications," he said. "I spent a lot of time soul searching."

In the end, "Deep down, I think we could have done better to safeguard the vulnerability of voters," he said.

"I sat in every meeting I could and listened to what everyone was saying —especially those with expertise," he said. "But the advise was often conflicting."

Bishop also criticized the way House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others handled the bill. "All of this was still done behind closed doors, and there was no chance of amending anything and there was no public process."

If a more full debate had occurred, Bishop said he might have been able to develop comfort that the bill was the best possible —but he instead was left wondering about many other proposals that did not receive close consideration and debate.

Matheson also said "a solid majority" of calls to his office were against the bailout. "The calls against it actually increased when people found out what the Senate had put in the bill" to sweeten it. "It upset a lot of people."

He said his opposition "was in no way a political vote" made simply to increase his re-election chances. "On Monday we voted no, and the stock market dropped 777 votes. If you wanted a political vote, you would want to be on the other side of that," he said.

"The overriding issue is that no one convinced me this bill will fix the underlying problem. When you talk about spending $700 billion, you want to have some certainty about what impact it will have on the problem," Matheson said.

He said the Senate's version of the bill was worse than the original. "It was just larded up with unrelated issues to secure votes, and we're adding more debt on the federal balance sheet as a result." He said that's ironic because "living with too much debt is how we got into this problem."

Matheson added that passing the bailout "is just chapter one in a long process." He added, "I will ask Congress to take hard look in January when we return to look at the underlying causes of what happened," and how to fix them long-term.

Cannon earlier this week said he supported the bailout because he sees it as "necessary to get our frozen economy back on track."

Bennett, who had been a chief negotiator on the bailout, praised the House for passing it on Friday.

"I applaud the House of Representatives for rising to the occasion and doing what is in the best interest of the country," Bennett said. "The 1.2 trillion loss in the stock market on Monday (when the House originally defeated the package) served as a stark reminder of the severity of this crisis."

Bennett added, "This bill is not the answer to all of our economic problems, but is a critical step in the right direction to stabilize our credit market and restore confidence so ordinary American can keep their businesses open, collect paychecks and obtain loans."

Hatch explained his support of the bailout earlier this week saying the rewritten bill "is designed to help families. This law will help workers hand on to their retirement savings, help small-business owners make payroll and help restore the American people's confidence in their own financial well-being."

How they voted:

Bishop: No

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Matheson: No

Cannon: Yes


E-mail: lee@desnews.com