House Passes Economic Recovery Bill

'Sweetened' bill passes 263-171 as Congress addresses economic crisis.

ByABC News
October 3, 2008, 10:36 AM

Oct. 3, 2008— -- The House of Representatives passed a sweeping, $700 billion economic rescue package on Friday after reconsidering the measure it failed to green-light earlier this week. President Bush quickly signed it into law.

The vote in the House was 263 to 171, well above the 218 votes needed to pass the bill.

On the floor of the House prior to the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned, "Our message to Wall Street is the party is over."

An emotional House Minority Leader John Boehner called the vote one of the "most serious" lawmakers will cast and said, "While we have an imperfect product, we have a responsibility to act."

Boehner, R-Ohio, also said the U.S. was in a recession.

"Even if we pass this bill today, let's not kid ourselves. We're in the midst of a recession. It's gonna be a rough ride."

President Bush quickly praised the bill's passage this afternoon from the Rose Garden before heading back inside to sign the measure without any ceremony.

"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. 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," he said.

Bush added, "Americans should also expect that it will take some time for this legislation to have its full impact on our economy."

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson also reacted in a statement, saying, "The broad authorities in this legislation, when combined with existing regulatory authorities and resources, gives us the ability to protect and recapitalize our financial system as we work through the stresses in our credit markets."

Several members who opposed the bill on Monday expressed a change of opinion in the debate that led up to the successful vote.

"I think we did improve the bill," said Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., who opposed the bill on Monday, when it fell short of passage by 13 votes.

"I believe, Madame Speaker, that inaction is not an option," Coble said. "I'm voting 'aye' today -- and it may be politically damaging. And the sky may fall tomorrow, but it'll fall upon my head."

Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., another who voted against the measure earlier this week, now implored the House to act. "We're out of options," he said. "We don't have a month to write a new bill. Things are critical. We don't even have gas at stations in Tennessee.

"Hold your hand over your heart and vote yes," Wamp said.

Others were seeking guidance from a higher authority.

"I asked the good Lord to give me guidance and wisdom to make the decision. I will vote yes and I ask my colleagues to do the same," said Gresham Barrett, R-S.C., on the House floor.

But opposition to the controversial $700 billion package was still strong.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., countered calls of support, saying, "If the secretary [of the Treasury] wants to run a hedge fund, he should go back to Wall Street. This Congress should not hand over such an enormous amount of money. It's wrong. It's simply irresponsible."

The economic rescue plan breezed through the Senate Wednesday night on a 75-24 vote, a move that was intended to put pressure on the House to also approve the measure.