This was a on a motion to bring to an immediate vote H.R. 1586, a bill imposing a 90% tax on certain bonuses given to AIG executives. H. R. 1586 was developed as a result of the bipartisan protests resulting from reports that bonuses were given to AIG executives after a multi-billion dollar rescue of the company by the federal government.
Rep. Pingree (D-ME), speaking in support of the motion and of H.R. 1586, said “people across the country are rightly outraged by the egregious nature of the AIG bonuses. It is unconscionable for AIG to pay out $165 million in bonuses to the same top executives who mismanaged the company to the point of failure . . . Families and businesses . . . are struggling to make ends meet and stay in their homes. . . Meanwhile, on Wall Street, we see executives who seem to think they live by a different set of rules . . . .”
Rep. Maloney (D-NY) observed that “it has become somewhat rare for the Members of this body to find themselves in virtually universal agreement, but outrage over the retention bonuses for the very members of the AIG Financial Products Division, who brought a corporate giant to its knees and the economy of our Nation to a standstill, has produced such an agreement. . . .”
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) said he supported the intent of the measure, but expressed concern about how the Democrats were handling it. He referred to an unsuccessful procedural effort the Republicans made the previous day to pass the legislation when news of the bonuses first came out. Diaz-Balart noted: “Yesterday, I made a motion on this floor that would have allowed debate on (the substance of the legislation). My motion was defeated, but it garnered bipartisan support. Every Republican voted for it, and so did eight Democrats . . . Although the motion failed, I am pleased that it attracted the attention of the majority leadership and they finally decided to take action on this scandal . . . (but) I find it quite unfortunate the way in which the majority leadership has decided to handle this scandal. (The majority Democrats) will also block every procedural right the minority has to shape legislation . . . .”
Rep. Diaz-Balart then claimed that “the Obama administration asked the Senate Banking Committee chairman, Mr. Dodd, to insert a provision in last month's so-called economic stimulus legislation that had the effect of authorizing AIG's bonuses.” Diaz Balart then asked: “Was the administration complicit? I think this is an issue that Congress needs to investigate.” Rep, LaTourette (R-OH) followed up by noting that “almost every person on the other side of the aisle voted for the stimulus bill that had the provision that protected, authorized, and allowed these bonuses.”
The motion carried by a vote of 242-180. All 242 “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Eight other Democrats joined with one hundred and seventy-two Republicans in voting “nay”. As a result, the House moved immediately to a vote on the bill imposing a 90% tax on bonuses given to AIG executives.