Thursday, October 2, 2008
The Senate passed its version of a mammoth plan to rescue the financial services industry Wednesday night, saying changes designed to protect individual investors and small business owners could be enough to persuade reluctant House members to go along with the plan.
Senators agreed to the plan 74-25 as an amendment to an unrelated bill, which was passed shortly thereafter.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who put together the original scheme to bail out the banks after Lehman Bros. and other financial institutions collapsed on Wall Street last month, welcomed the “strong bipartisan vote.”
“This sends a positive signal that we stand ready to protect the U.S. economy by making sure that Americans have access to the credit that is needed to create jobs and keep businesses going,” Paulson said in a statement. “I urge the House to act promptly to pass this bill.”
The House was always the intended audience for Wednesday’s action in the Senate, which loaded the rescue plan with tax breaks and other sweeteners for the right and the left to secure approval in the House by Friday.
House members rejected the original plan Monday, sending financial markets plunging around the globe, but it did not cause the same uproar in the Senate, where both parties’ presidential candidates voted for it.
“We are all going to need to sacrifice,” Democratic nominee Barack Obama of Illinois said in a floor speech. “We’re all going to need to pull our weight, because now more than ever we are all in this together. That is part of what this crisis has taught us.”
At a campaign rally Wednesday afternoon in Independence, Mo., Republican nominee John McCain of Arizona told supporters, “If we fail to act, the gears of our economy will grind to a halt.”
President Bush praised the Senate for passing the package, calling the bill “essential to the financial security of every American.”