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Range of opposition

Washington — Washington - Rep. Elijah E. Cummings wanted more help for homeowners facing foreclosure. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett didn't want to reward the "bad behavior" of irrational lenders and borrowers.

From opposite ends of the political spectrum, the two Marylanders reflected the range of opposition to the $700 billion financial bailout package rejected yesterday by lawmakers.

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"The thing that bothers me more than anything else about this deal is the imbalance," said Cummings, a liberal Democrat from Baltimore. "It says to me, 'Let's do all these wonderful things for Wall Street.' But I'm worried about the guy on Madison Avenue in Baltimore."

"You can't privatize losses and socialize profits," said Bartlett, a conservative Republican from Western Maryland. He said the bill didn't do enough to protect individuals and banks that had "played by the rules," and pointed to legislation he has introduced to expand deposit insurance.

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Congressional leaders of both parties had pushed House members to support the proposal to buy up the bad mortgages and other toxic debt that has imperiled the flow of credit. President Bush was calling lawmakers before the vote to lobby personally for its passage.

But 133 Republicans and 65 Democrats joined to sink the plan, sending all sides back for more negotiations. Opposition among Maryland lawmakers provided a microcosm of the overall vote yesterday, with most members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other liberal Democrats joining many of the most conservative House Republicans in rejecting the plan.

"While the bill has failed, the crisis has not disappeared," said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, a Democrat from Southern Maryland, who voted for the package.

Among the Maryland delegation, Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards joined Bartlett and Cummings in voting against the bailout. In addition to Hoyer, Democratic Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and Chris Van Hollen, and Republican Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest voted to approve it.

"In my view, the consequence of inaction would be that the contagion on Wall Street would spread rapidly to Main Street," Van Hollen said before the vote. "This is the least bad of a lot of bad options."

But Edwards said lawmakers were given "a false set of choices."

"There is a third choice, to actually sit down and draw up a bill that really is to the best benefit of taxpayers and homeowners," she said. She wants to force the treasury secretary to work out loan modifications for individuals, and allow homeowners to seek bankruptcy protection.

"I think now it's time to take a deep breath and to actually work on this thing," she said.

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At the other end of the Capitol, the state's senators are waiting to see what the House will pass.

"We're in a very serious situation," Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin said. "Inaction is not an option."


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