U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) today voted for H.J. Res. 3, legislation to block the release of the final $350 billion outlay approved last fall in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA). Congressman Dent said he believed the mission of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) shifted dramatically over the past three months and Congress had a responsibility to seriously evaluate whether this program has been effective and if additional taxpayer dollars should be dedicated to it moving forward before authorizing the second round of funding. The House passed H.J.Res. 3 by a vote of 270 to 155, but the Senate failed to pass their disapproval resolution last week.

“This past October, I cast one of the most difficult votes of my career,” Congressman Dent said. “I joined a bi-partisan majority of Congress in passing the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act because I believed that decisive action was needed to stabilize our economy. The centerpiece of that bill was the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which was intended to purchase toxic assets in order to restore capital to our markets and prevent a catastrophe in our financial system.

“At the time, Congressman Steven LaTourette and I offered an amendment that would have required an affirmative vote by Congress, after thorough review of the successes and failures of the TARP, in order to release the second installment of $350 billion. Unfortunately, that amendment was rejected by the House Rules Committee, under Speaker Pelosi’s direction. As a result, the legislation provided that the funding would be released unless both the House and the Senate passed a resolution of disapproval – something we have done in the House, but which the Senate failed to do.

“I pledged when the EESA was signed into law that I would monitor the implementation of the legislation carefully to assure that it did what it was intended to do — stabilize our economy while protecting the interests of taxpayers.

"As time has passed, the program has drifted significantly from its original mandate. For example, the TARP was never intended to make loans to automobile manufacturers, but that is one of the ways the money has been used. Under the original conception of the TARP, Treasury would have eventually sold the troubled assets purchased through the program and taxpayers would reap the profits; taxpayers were also protected against losses because the bill required the financial industry to pay the government back if the program resulted in a shortfall. As the scope of the TARP has broadened, critical taxpayer protections have weakened.”

“Particularly, in light of a massive stimulus bill that will be considered soon, I believe the responsible action would have been for Congress to take time to evaluate the effectiveness of the TARP and carefully consider what action is needed to stabilize the economy.”