Early Briefing: Md.'s Hoyer Holds His Nose
Metro Staff writer John Wagner checks in with House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) to get his views on the now revived bailout package headed for a possible vote later today.
Nearly two years after his ascension to the No. 2 position in the House, Maryland's longest-serving congressman is facing one of the biggest challenges of his career, both on Capitol Hill and back home, as he tries to sell what he believes is a flawed, but necessary, deal.
Since the House voted down an earlier version of the $700 billion bailout Monday, Hoyer, who was first elected to Congress in 1981, has been a constant presence on national television, handicapping future votes and warning of the consequences if Congress does not act.
He has been working the phones, telling fellow fiscally conservative Democrats in particular not to abandon the "rescue package," despite the deficit-expanding measures added by the Senate.
At the same time, Hoyer has been trying to reassure voters in his district that the bailout is needed, despite calls to his office that he says are now running about 3-to-1 in opposition (down from 6-to-1 a few days ago).
About three hours after getting off the air with two local radio hosts, the often-loquacious Hoyer was being peppered with questions by more than 50 Capitol Hill reporters packed in a conference room that is part of his office suite.
Despite earlier indications to the contrary, Hoyer told the reporters, he did not expect too many fiscally conservative Democrats, known as Blue Dogs, to reverse course from Monday and vote against the bill. Even though they are concerned that measures added by the Senate will add to the deficit, they understand that the stakes for Main Street are too high for it to fail, Hoyer said.
"The Blue Dogs have a problem. They are responsible people," he said to laughter.
In other news:
* American Community Properties Trust, a St. Charles-based real estate development firm, named Stephen Griessel chief executive, succeeding J. Michael Wilson. Wilson will continue to serve as chairman.
Griessel has been consulting for the company for the past 16 months, a period in which ACPT had considered taking itself private. He is slated to receive an annual salary of $550,000, restricted stock totaling 363,743 shares, and depending on whether certain performance goals are met, a bonus of up to $330,000.
Separately, the Wilson family agreed to give Griessel the economic benefit of 7 percent of their shares in the company, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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