Geithner Takes Heat on Hill

AIG bonuses cause ire from lawmakers. First House members call for resignation.

ByABC News
March 18, 2009, 4:41 PM

March 18, 2009— -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is facing growing anger and frustration on Capitol Hill, with the bonuses going to AIG adding to some lawmakers' skepticism about Geithner's leadership.

The concerns appear unlikely to force President Barack Obama to push out his Treasury secretary, for whom he voiced renewed support today. But the worries could undermine the Obama administration's efforts to keep Congress on board for a more comprehensive approach to propping up the financial system.

Today, two members of Congress -- Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. -- became the first to call on Obama's Treasury secretary to resign.

"Secretary Geithner either didn't know about the bonuses, and was grossly negligent, or he did know and failed to bring this to the president's attention," Issa, the top Republican on the House Government Reform Committee, said in a statement. "Either way, the end result has been a significant waste of taxpayer dollars and he should take immediate responsibility and resign."

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, stopped just short of joining their calls, telling a radio interviewer that Geithner is "on thin ice." He said the administration needs to provide more details of "what the administration knew and when they knew it."

Several Democrats, while continuing to stand behind Geithner publicly, are serving notice that their patience has limits.

Asked if he supports Geithner, Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., said: "At the moment, yeah. I mean, I have questions like anybody else, but let's be serious. He's still new on the job, he hasn't been able to get anybody else appointed or actually confirmed by the Senate. So, I think it's a little too early to pass that judgment."

Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., who serves with Capuano on the House Financial Service Committee, offered similarly lukewarm support: "I think Secretary Geithner is doing generally a good job, and I'm hoping that he's learning quickly how difficult the job he faces is."