The ambush on the White House, which threatened the $700 million bail out, was orchestrated by five Republicans with close links to John McCain.
By Andrew Pierce
26 Sep 2008
Two of the rebels were seriously considered as potential vice presidential candidates by Mr McCain before he chose the unknown Sarah Palin from Alaska.
The highly charged White House meeting on the Wall Street rescue plan ended bizarrely when Hank Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, even went down on one knee to plead for them not to "blow up" the deal. Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat Speaker, retorted: "I didn't know you were Catholic."
The rebels' connections to Mr McCain have fuelled fears that they are plotting a scenario in which the Republican presidential candidate emerges as the only one politician with the stature to broker a deal.
House Minority Leader John Boehner
The ring leader of the rebellion is John Boehner, 58, from Ohio, the leader of the Republican minority. He is a doughty fighter. Only days ago he secured an unexpected victory over the Democrats when they agreed to overturn a 25-year-old ban on drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, waters which were once considered sacrosanct by the conservationists.
Mr Boehner turned an issue feared as a political liability by many Republicans in Congress into political gold as anger over high fuel prices made voters more receptive to calls for more domestic energy production.
He met with Mr McCain before blocking the deal in the White House meeting.
He was backed by Richard Shelby, 74, of Alabama, the son of a steel worker, who has made millions as a property developer. The most senior Republican on the senate banking committee his opposition to the Wall Street deal has particularly infuriated Democrats.
An opponent of gun control and abortion he was elected in 1978 as a Democrat. But in 1994 he switched sides to become a Republican, when they gained the majority in Congress. He said his defection was in protest at President Clinton's liberal tax-and-spend policies.
On Thursday afternoon, unknown to the White House and senior Democrats, a series of conservative principles were drawn-up. They were drafted by the Republicans, Eric Cantor, Jeb Hensarling and Paul Ryan which they wanted incorporated in any rescue plan.
Mr Boehner then, to the consternation of President Bush and Democratic leaders, introduced the principles as a conservative alternative to the Paulson bailout plan halfway through the White House meeting. The meeting then descended into acrimony culminating in Mr Paulson's extraordinary theatrical genuflection.
Mr Cantor, 45, from Virginia, was considered one of the favourites to be Mr McCain's running mate before Sarah Palin was chosen. The only Jewish Republican in the House he is the party's deputy chief whip and an avowed tax cutter.
Seen as a rising star of the party Mr Cantor was named a co-chairman of the National Jewish outreach for the campaign. It was to date his highest profile so far in national politics until his role in scuppering the White House deal.
The opposition of Jeb Hensarling, 52, a congressman from Texas since 2003, would have come as no surprise to the Democrats. He is known at Congress as the "budget nanny" because he is a vocal supporter of protecting the "family budget from the federal budget". He is an ultra-conservative opposing abortion rights, stem cell research, same-sex marriage, legislation against hate crimes, and supported a Constitutional amendment against flag burning.].
Mr Ryan, 38, from Wisconsin, who was elected in 1998, is one of the authors of the conservative alternative. He met with Mr McCain before the deal was torpedoed. He has been talked of as a "road map for the future" and was also touted as a vice presidential candidate for Mr McCain. "Our goal is not to derail. Our goal is to break the logjam," he said.