- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2008

BREAKING NEWS, UPDATED:

President Bush has signed the $700 billion bailout package, moments after Congress gave Wall Street the financial lifeline it was seeking when the House reversed course and approved it on Friday.

After a 20-minute visit inside Treasury, the president told reporters outside the building that he had “thanked them for their hard work over the past six weeks in dealing with a serious financial crisis.”

“Mr. Secretary, you and your team have worked incredibly hard … I know that your people are exhausted in there,” Mr. Bush said to Mr. Paulson, who nodded. “Sometimes people in government never get thanked enough.”

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The House passed the measure 263 to 171, following the Senate’s lead in passing a reformulated bill that added tax breaks, an increase in the federal deposit insurance limit and other “sweeteners” designed to increase support for the bill among Republicans.

President Bush hailed the Congress for passing the bill, acknowledging that “there were moments this week when some thought the federal government could not rise to the challenge.

“By coming together on this legislation, we have acted boldly to help prevent the crisis on Wall Street from becoming a crisis in communities across our country,” Mr. Bush said. “We have shown the world that the United States of America will stabilize our financial markets and maintain a leading role in the global economy.”

The president, however, cautioned that “it will take some time for this legislation to have its full impact on our economy.”

“Our economy continues to face serious challenges,” he said. “It will take more time and determined effort to get through this difficult period.”

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican said, “It’s not about Wall Street, it about Main Street. It’s not a bailout, it’s a situation where American taxpayers invest money in a way that ensures they have a return.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the measure was a significant improvement over an initial version that the House stunningly rejected 228-205 on Monday, sending world markets into a tailspin.

“It’s an important vote, it’s a difficult vote, but it’s a vote that we must win for the American people,” said the California Democrat. “We must win it for Mr. and Mrs. Jones on Main Street.

The Senate two days later passed a revised version that included tax breaks, an increase in the federal deposit insurance limit and other “sweeteners” designed to increase support for the bill among Republicans.

House leaders from both parties wrangled to get the extra dozen votes needed to pass the bill throughout the week, with phone calls to members and meetings to shore up existing support and switch votes.

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