The House’s rejection of the Bush administration’s $700 billion economic rescue plan was a clear rejection of President Bush.
The president spent much of the morning calling House Republicans, trying to win their support. But 133 out of 199 Republicans voted against the plan.
“Throughout the morning the President has been on the phone talking to Republican members of Congress, encouraging them to support this bill,” said White House spokesman Tony Fratto at the midday press briefing.
Mr. Fratto said that Mr. Bush worked his way through “a list of a couple dozen members,” and that the list included 40 or 50 lawmakers.
“I’m not sure how far he was able to get through that list. But reporting back from those calls was — you know, some people committed to voting for the bill, others remain skeptical,” Mr. Fratto said. “The President promised them that the questions that they have, we’ll try to address them, try to get them more information.”
The president’s legislative affairs team put together a list of the lawmakers they thought were opposed or on the fence, but could possibly be persuaded.
But it wasn’t just the president who was working the phones before the vote.
“Everyone with a phone,” including Vice President Cheney, was trying to twist arms and get votes, Mr. Fratto said.