Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bush: Congress must act

President Bush said Tuesday he was "disappointed" by the House's rejection of the $700 billion bailout plan and urged Congress to take action to save the economy.

"Unfortunately, the measure was defeated by a narrow margin," Bush said in a brief televised address at the White House. "I'm disappointed by the outcome, but I assure our citizens, and citizens around the world, that this is not the end of the legislative process."

Bush said he expects lawmakers to move forward with legislation. The House is adjourned for the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah and is not scheduled to return to session until Thursday at noon. The Senate is in session on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that he would meet with some key Democratic senators - including Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. - working on a bailout plan.

For his part, Bush said the nation is facing "the real prospect of economic hardship."

"Our economy is depending on decisive action from the government," Bush said. "The sooner we address the problem, the sooner we can get back on the path of growth and job creation. This is what elected leaders owe the American people, and I am confident that we'll deliver."

Bush is meeting with his team Tuesday morning to review options, a senior Bush administration official told CNN. On Monday night, White House staffers were in contact with Republican congressional leaders and Democratic staffers, the official said.

The official said that even Republicans who oppose the plan understand the seriousness of the situation and "want to get this done."

The Senate's lead Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that lawmakers will pass a bill. "I want to reassure the American people that we intend to pass this legislation this week," he said.

On Tuesday, Bush spoke to Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain about the financial crisis, according White House spokesman Tony Fratto. The presidential candidates "offered ideas and reaffirmed what they have said publicly - that this is a critical issue that needs to be addressed," Fratto said.

Stock market reaction
The bailout package, a collaboration of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and leaders from both parties, was rejected by the House in a 228-205 vote Monday. Two-thirds of Republicans and about one-third of Democrats voted against the bill.

Following the defeat, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 777 points, its biggest one-day point decline ever. The decline of nearly 7% was the largest percentage decline since the Black Monday crash of 1987.

The bill, if approved, would have allowed the federal government to buy troubled mortgage-related investments from finance companies, freeing them up for lending, to pull the economy out of its credit freeze. Proponents of the bill believe it would prevent the United States from sliding into a serious financial crisis, but opponents saw it as an unbearable burden to taxpayers and a rescue for Wall Street.

"That, no question, is a large amount of money," said Bush, referring to the $700 billion. "We're also dealing with a large problem. But to put that in perspective, the drop in the stock market yesterday represented more than a trillion dollars in losses."

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