Porter bill calls for panel to probe crisis

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., introduced a bill in Congress on Thursday establishing a commission to investigate the collapse of the financial markets and the government's response to the crisis.

While congressional leaders and the Bush administration are working to form a bailout package with hopes of stabilizing the economy, "we also need to learn from this situation to protect us in the future," Porter said.

He said he was meeting with House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio in an attempt to have the commission attached to the financial services bailout. He also appealed in a letter to Boehner and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

"We need to find solutions fast, but we also need to look at how we got here," Porter said. "We have more regulations for the gaming industry in Las Vegas than the derivatives markets on Wall Street."

Porter, a three-term incumbent, is in a tight race for re-election against Democratic state Sen. Dina Titus.

The Titus campaign said Porter was trying to seize a headline after turning a blind eye in Congress to the misdeeds of finance firms during his six years in office "while taking $1.6 million from the finance, insurance and real estate sector."

"Unfortunately for Nevada's families that have already been hit hard, better late than never just doesn't apply in this case," Titus spokesman Andrew Stoddard said.

Titus already has called for a tough response to the crisis, "so it is encouraging to hear that Jon Porter is finally echoing her call," Stoddard said.

Porter responded: "At a time when Democrats and Republicans are working well together, it doesn't surprise me that my opponent would try to make this political."

Porter's bill was introduced with no listed co-sponsors, which he attributed to his rush to get it introduced. The offices of Boehner and Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2 Republican leader, did not return calls for comment on the bill.

The FBI reportedly has opened an investigation of financial institutions involved in the crisis. Porter said the commission he envisions would not conflict with other probes.

In the Senate, a spokesman said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., believes "first things first. Nothing should divert attention from the need to address the crisis."

"If people want to take a look at how we got here, and that is not a bad idea, that is what we have (congressional) committees for," spokesman Jon Summers said.

The bill would establish a 12-member commission with subpoena powers to examine what caused the financial market collapse, and whether federal regulators were prepared to respond.

The panel would report to Congress in 18 months. The bill grants the commission $2 million to start its work, with further money authorized "as may be necessary."

It calls for a "full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the failures and the extent of regulatory preparedness" by federal agencies.