Frank Taking Questions, 'Persuading' Fellow Democrats to Vote Yes

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has turned to a classic congressional tactic as he manages the floor debate over the bailout bill.

He's had Democratic colleagues bring up their concerns about the bill in their floor speeches. The skeptical members then yield to Frank, who addresses their concerns before yielding back. At that point, the members have said they support the bill.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), who opposed the bill Monday, asked whether the measure would give the Treasury Department the power to deal directly with homeowners facing foreclosure.

Frank answered: "Absolutely."

Edwards then said she'd vote for the bill.

When Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) asked Frank whether it would help carmakers, Frank again answered in the affirmative.

Frank's approach is reminiscent of one used by another Democratic leader during an important debate. Lyndon Johnson, as Senate Majority Leader in 1957, staged a similar question-and-answer session during a floor debate over a civil rights bill. It served as a way to help persuade senators watching the floor debate to back the controversial measure. Johnson's ploy was famously recounted by Robert Caro in his book, "Master of the Senate."