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Bush Signs $700 Billion Bailout Bill


From the studios of NPR West, this is Day to Day, I'm Madeleine Brand. The Wall Street bailout package is now a law. President Bush has signed it.


I'm Alex Chadwick. The house passed the rescue plan by a vote of 263 to 171. So now it goes on to the president for his signature. This bill will allow the federal government to buy the bad assets of troubled financial companies. This is to help credit markets and to stabilize the economy.

BRAND: Today's vote reverses Monday's rejection of the plan in the house. And here to explain this is NPR's Brian Naylor. So Brian, when we spoke on Monday everyone was really surprised that it went down and today was it a surprised that it passed?

BRIAN NAYLOR: Well, I wouldn't say exactly a surprise, Madeleine but it was - there are lot of sigh of relief - let's put it that way after - after it did there was a lot of arm twisting the past four days since we last talked. A lot of - a lot of phone calls and meetings, some sweetening of the villas they say. And there are say a lot soul searching on - on a part of law makers this past week. Clearly, they were relieved after the bill passed. Here's how Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking after the vote.

Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California, House Speaker): Our eye now is to the future. To shine the bright light of accountability on what is happening in our financial markets so that it doesn't happen again that accountability will tell us how we got to this place and ferried out the abuses.

BRAND: So Bryan, 58 more votes for it then - then on Monday which putted over the top. What was it? Was it Nancy Pelosi arm twisting as you say?

NAYLOR: Well, it was some of that, some of that was Nancy Pelosi, some of it frankly we're hearing Barack Obama reached out to several of the African-American members in the House who by enlarge voted against the bill the last time. Members of the Hispanic caucus voted against the bill in large numbers last time and they've switched. You know, there were a lot of different things that changed in the bill. There is - there is tax credits for renewable energy in it now.

So that helps some members doubling the deduction that non-itemizers can take for property taxes that was important for others. The one's that I spoke with who switched also heard a lot from everyone from college presidents to car dealers, all worried about the tightening of the credit lines. And - and then so that let the changes on - on each end of the political spectrum for instance, here is Republican Gresham Barrett of South Carolina.

Representative GRESHAM BARRETT (Republican, South Carolina): Do I still have concerns that it will affect the free market system? Yes, but we have to act, and we have to act now.

NAYLOR: And - and at the same time he was talking about acting sour liberal members, liberal Democrats who voted against it on Monday saying as they were - they were coming around. They had said originally, they build in too much for their constituents but today they saw it differently. Here is Hilda Solis of California.

Representative HILDA SOLIS (Democrat, California): I believe that our leadership will do everything they can in their power to make sure that we make these Americans whole. We have to restore trust in our banking institutions and we have to cap CEO payouts. That's why I am now looking at supporting the bill. I know it's hard from my constituents but I think we have to do right thing.

BRAND: So Brian coming away from this, what are the most important things that we need to know about this bill?

NAYLOR: Well, you know, you've heard the big provisions $700 billion in installments to other, no golden parachute for CEOs and over side board. The question is will this loosen the credit markets? As we mentioned before that they - that they're very tight and they're not lending, there's a concern that - that money won't be available for business to borrow, consumers to borrow, no one really knows whether it's going to work or not. And - and law makers are also got their eye on the election coming up in about a month's time. And - and they're hoping that their - their constituents aren't going to throw them out for how - whichever way they voted.

BRAND: NPRs Brian Naylor on Capitol Hill. Thank you.

NAYLOR: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
Madeleine Brand
Madeleine Brand is the host of NPR’s newest and fastest-growing daily show, Day to Day. She conducts interviews with newsmakers (Iraqi politicians, US senators), entertainment figures (Bernardo Bertolluci, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Gervais), and the everyday people affected by the news (an autoworker laid off at GM, a mother whose son was killed in Iraq).