Senate to Take Up AIG Bonus Debate

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Now the U.S. Senate will be taking up measures on those big American International Group bonuses. The massive bonuses were awarded to employees at insurance giant AIG have been at the center of debate on Capitol Hill this week.

The House has passed a bill to tax most of the money back, but the debate is likely to continue for weeks.

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Washington Correspondent Jennifer Wishon followed by Gordon Robertson's comments concerning the blame game going on in Washington.

The Senate will take up its own plan for taxing away those big bonuses handed out to AIG executives. The legislative body will likely deal with the measure before Congress breaks for Easter.

Bipartisan Support

The bill easily passed the house Thurday with bipartisan support. But not everyone on Capitol Hill thinks Congress is doing the right thing.

"This bill is nothing more than an attempt for everyone to cover their butt up here on Capitol Hill, " said Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio.

House Republican leader Boehner and others say Congress is just making up for its own mistake in allowing the bonuses in the first place.

Even so, many lawmakers hope to send a strong message to big companies getting bailed out by billions of tax dollars.

"The game is finished," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY "The casino is closed."

The bill taxes 90 percent of bonuses awarded to employees making $250,000 working at companies that have received taxpayer bailout money.

The Blame Game

Democrats and Republicans, united in their disgust over the bonuses, spent the day playing a blame game.

"The Democrats in Congress and this administration made these bonus payments possible," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-IN.

"The ceo compensation issues were completely resisted by the Bush administration and so we are right now sweeping up after them," responded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Already in California promoting his budget, President Barack Obama made a stop in Burbank to appear on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

He told Leno the bonuses at AIG are part of a larger problem of greed that must be corrected.

"On the AIG thing, you know all these contracts were written well before I took office," the President said. "But ultimately I'm now the guy responsible to fix it."

Questions About Loophole

The administration is taking heat after revelations Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner requested staffers for Sen. Chris Dodd insert a loophole into the President's stimulus bill.

It exempts employee contracts signed last year from new limits on pay - making the bonuses possible.

"We expressed concern about this specific version, because we wanted to make sure it was strong enough to survive legal challenge," Geithner told CNN.

Meanwhile, AIG has released the names of the employees who received the bonuses.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is now reviewing whether or not it's safe to make them public. Some employees have received death threats.

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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