Lawmakers Demand to See Bailout Chief

Neel Kashkari will testify before Congress on Friday.

November 11, 2008— -- The Treasury Department's top bailout official will testify before Congress Friday, after two congressmen wrote to demand he appear.

The department rejected an earlier request by Reps. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and Darrell Issa, R-Calif., for Neel Kashkari, Interim Assistant Secretary for the Treasury for Financial Stability, to appear at a hearing slated for Friday, the two lawmakers said.

Kucinich and Issa are the chairman and ranking member of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, respectively.

Kashkari's appearance is "imperative," the two told Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., in a letter dated Tuesday. "There are serious questions," the duo said, whether the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program could actually stabilize the economy, as Congress and the Bush administration intended.

Kashkari testified before a Senate panel late last month. But his testimony – and subsequent responses from Treasury officials to House staffers -- were mostly "generalizations," the lawmakers wrote Paulson.

Kucinich and Issa cited news reports that banks have used some of the $250 billion from TARP to buy other financial institutions and pay bonuses – not to make new loans and thaw credit markets, which the economy needs.

"The time has come for the Treasury Department to speak clearly and definitively to Congress and the American people about its plans for the extraordinary sums Congress has authorized," the lawmakers wrote.

This post has been updated.

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