In a 228 to 205 vote, the U.S. House
of Representatives voted down a $700 billion measure aimed at addressing the
nation's financial crisis, as lawmakers from both major political parties defied
their leadership and voted against the bill. VOA's Dan Robinson reports the
outcome has left Democrats and Republicans trading accusations about who was
responsible for the defeated bill.
When the final vote was
announced, the measure had gone down in defeat, with 133 Republicans and 95
Democrats voting against it.
Afterward, as lawmakers and Americans
nervously watched a sharp drop in stock prices on Wall Street, Republican
leaders told reporters that remarks on the House floor by Speaker Nancy Pelosi
had insulted Republicans, robbing the bill of important votes.
"We put everything we had into getting
the votes to get there today, but the Speaker had to give a partisan voice that
poisoned our conference, caused a number of our members that we thought we could
get, to go South [vote against the measure]," said Minority Leader John
Appearing with Democratic leaders, Speaker Pelosi said lines of
communication remain open to Republicans and the administration, adding that she
had spoken with Treasury Secretary Paulson.
"I said, 'Mr. Secretary, we
delivered on our side of the bargain," she said. "You impressed our members, and
the president impressed our members about the gravity of the situation, but
action was necessary to stabilize the markets and to protect the taxpayer.'
Clearly that message has not been received yet by the Republican
Emerging from a
meeting with President Bush at the White House, Paulson said he was very
disappointed after so much bipartisan work on the bill, saying the
administration and Congress need to work as quickly as possible on a revised
plan that can be implemented as soon as possible.
"I will continue to
work with congressional leaders to find a way forward to pass a comprehensive
plan to stabilize our financial system and protect the American people by
limiting the prospects of further deterioration in our economy," he said. "We
have got much work to do and this is simply too important to let
President Bush expressed disappointment with the House rejection.
He had this comment during an appearance at the White House with the visiting
President of Ukraine.
"The Republicans and the Democrats will come
together to get this piece of legislation passed which is necessary to address
the financial situation and to provide a rescue plan to make sure that there is
some stability in the markets," he said.
In the Senate, which would have
acted on a House-passed bill, Republican Judd Gregg spoke to
"I think the bottom line is this: If we don't act promptly
around here, and effectively, then a lot of people are going to lose their jobs,
and Main Street [America] is going to be put into dire straits," he
Asked about next steps, House Financial Services
Committee Chairman Barney Frank said Congress has no alternative but to keep
working on a bipartisan solution that will pass. But he had this response to
"Here's the story. There is a terrible crisis
affecting the American economy," he said. "We have come together on a bill to
alleviate the crisis and because somebody hurt their feelings, they decided to
punish the country."
As revised by Congress, the measure would have
authorized the government to purchase in stages as much as $700 billion worth of
troubled assets and acquire equity in threatened financial firms. It also would
have created a strong oversight board, taken steps to help Americans avoid home
foreclosures, and placed limits on executive compensation.
Republicans asserted that the proposed massive government intervention failed to
address fundamental market problems, calling it "corporate welfare," while
Democratic opponents said it contained too few protections for American
"I fear this legislation is fraught with unintended
consequences," said Texas Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling. "I fear that
ultimately it may not work. I fear it is too much bailout and not enough work
out. I fear that taxpayers may end up inheriting the mother of all
Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman was among the Democrats who
opposed the legislation.
"Some 400 eminent economists, including three
Nobel laureates, are asking us to come back and do our job and write a good bill
in the next week or so," he said.
The fate of the financial market
bailout plan is now in question, with the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashana
interrupting a congressional session that had already been extended beyond its
planned adjournment to prepare for the November general elections.