Alaska Rep. Don Young said he voted against the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill Monday because nearly all of the 500 Alaskans who called his office to express their opinions asked him to.
"My phone calls are running about 99 percent against it," Young said in a teleconference following the bill's failure in the House. "I have to speak for my Alaskan constituency, and that's what I've done."
His spokeswoman, Meredith Kenny, later said Young's offices in the state and in Washington have received "well over 2,000 phone calls" from Alaskans, with roughly 95 percent against the bailout.
While most House Democrats favored the emergency legislation, Young and fellow Republicans voted two to one against it. The measure failed 205-228.
Young faulted the Democratic leadership for bringing the bill to a floor vote without the necessary votes. "(House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) very frankly underestimated the opposition on this," he said.
His own vote could change if the tide of public opinion in Alaska changes, Young said, but he questioned whether any version of the bill would be consistent with America's free-market principles.
"I don't want to go down that socialist path," he said.
With his latest campaign for Congress about to enter its final month, the 18-term incumbent had planned to board a plane Monday to return to Alaska. But now he expects to remain in Washington for the rest of the week.
If the Senate votes to pass the bill on Wednesday, pressure would increase for the House to do the same on Thursday or Friday, Young said, "especially if the stock market goes in the tank."
Alaska's two senators, Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, have said they have reservations about the bailout plan but that it must be passed to avoid a sharp economic downturn.