(Adds Boehner quote, background)
WASHINGTON, March 24 U.S. Treasury Secretary
Timothy Geithner's request for government authority to wind
down failing non-bank financial firms is an unprecedented power
grab, House Minority Leader John Boehner said on Tuesday.
"This is an unprecedented grab of power, and before that
occurs, there ought to be a real debate about whether we should
give that authority to the Treasury Secretary," Boehner, an
Ohio Republican, told reporters. There were many unanswered
questions, he said, but stopped short of saying flatly that he
would oppose the plan.
Geithner on Tuesday joined the Federal Reserve in calling
for authority to wind down failing non-bank financial firms
that threaten the financial system. He pointed to American
International Group as an example of a non-bank institution
that can pose systemic risks.
Geithner, in testimony to a House committee, said Congress
should approve legislation giving the government the ability to
step in to put a major institution under conservatorship and
avoid a damaging bankruptcy.
But Boehner said that he was "a little concerned" about the
idea of giving Treasury even more power, "with everything that
is going on, in terms of the government involvement in the
"You need to look at insurance operations as an example,
that are regulated by states. What interest would the Treasury
secretary have here, and why would he want this power?" Boehner
asked after a meeting with other House Republicans.