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Congress kills bonus-repayment plan

Associated Press / February 13, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Congressional leaders killed a plan that would have forced financial institutions to compensate taxpayers for paying executives bonuses after taking a federal bailout.

The Senate had approved the repayment plan as part of an effort to crack down on Wall Street firms that paid huge bonuses - some in the millions - to top executives as they received taxpayer money last fall.

The provision was removed as House and Senate negotiators hammered out final details of the $789 billion economic stimulus legislation this week.

A spokeswoman for Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said no one spoke against the amendment when Wyden introduced it on the Senate floor. "Somehow, it got stripped out behind closed doors," said Jennifer Hoelzer.

Senator Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican and cosponsor of the amendment, issued a statement saying the financial bailout "left open an escape hatch of golden parachutes for top executives on Wall Street."

The Wyden-Snowe amendment would have penalized companies that paid bonuses larger than $100,000 after receiving rescue funds last year. The companies would have had to repay within four months any portion of the bonus above $100,000 or face an excise tax of 35 percent on the portion above $100,000.

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