"I assume that you recognize there's not an awful lot of sympathy up here to necessarily provide additional funds -- not going on the merits of whether the funds are necessary," said Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa. "I, for one, am absolutely convinced that, for orderly process, we need additional funding, and probably will commit the second suicidal act, as we did back in September and October, and vote in favor of that funding. But it's not going to be an easy lift on behalf of the Congress."
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke wanted to sue American International Group to stop the bonuses but he said that he ultimately decided against a lawsuit after learning of the costly legal consequences that could ensue -- namely, the "perverse effect of doubling or tripling the financial benefits" to AIG's Financial Products unit.
Geithner, who's been engulfed in a firestorm of criticism over the AIG bonus controversy, said that he shared the "anger and frustration of the American people," not just about the bonuses "but that our system permitted a scale of risk-taking that has caused grave damage to the fortunes of all Americans."
He said that the Treasury would deduct the amount of the AIG bonuses from the government's aid to the insurance giant.
Today's hearing is the House Financial Services Committee's second hearing on the government's $170 billion bailout of AIG.
Many in Congress will be more kind toward Geithner, but he still faces questions about why he did not stop the bonuses.
"After making one mistake after another, after failing to lead and losing the confidence of the nation, Secretary Geithner will arrive on Capitol Hill as the loneliest man in Washington," said Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., who is not on the House Financial Services Committee.
"He'd be much better served by announcing his resignation than by trying to defend the indefensible," Mack told ABC News.
"While he exercised extremely poor judgment about the AIG bonuses and must lead the effort to recoup those bonuses, I remain supportive of the secretary for now." said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
"There is definitely cause for concern about why Geithner waited until the last minute to talk to Liddy about these bonuses. It's his job to know about these things," said another congressional Democrat who asked to remain anonymous.
But the lawmaker still expressed confidence in Geithner.
"We cannot lose sight of the bigger picture here. Geithner inherited a terrible mess from the Bush administration and I am completely confident in his ability to get our nation's economy back on track."
Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., suggested that it's too early to judge Geithner's performance.
Asked by ABC News last week whether he supports Geithner's staying in place, Capuano replied, "At the moment, yeah. I mean, I have questions like anybody else, but let's be serious. He's still new on the job.