Bush Signs Economic Rescue Plan

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 After weeks of tough negotiating and one failed vote, Congress cleared the last hurdle to passing an historic bill authorizing $700 billion to shore up the nation's troubled financial industry.

President Bush signed the measure into law, shortly after the House voted 263-171 in favor of it.

"We have acted boldly to prevent the crisis on Wall Street from becoming a crisis in communities across our country," the President declared.

Click the play button for more with CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent Paul Strand.

Earlier this week, the House failed to pass a similar bill, but a revised measure later passed through the Senate in vote of 74-25.

Announcement of the vote was greeted by applause. Among many features, the legislation allows the Treasury Department to buy up bad debt from various lending institutions.

This morning, Congressional leaders said they were confident they had the votes to send the measure to Bush for his signature by day's end.

In the wake of the bill's passage Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has said he will move quickly to get the program up and running.

Paulson said, "This was obviously a very important vote. It was a vote to protect the American people. and their jobs."

Bush thanked lawmakers for acting in decisive and bipartisan manner. 

"There were moments this week when some thought that the federal government could not rise to the challenge. But thanks to the hard work of members of both parties, in both houses, and the spirit of cooperation between Capitol Hill and my administration, we completed this bill in a timely manner," he said.

Still, the President took a moment to acknowledge Americans' objections to the bill.

"I know some Americans have concerns about this legislation, especially about the government's role and the bill's cost," the President said. "As a strong supporter of free enterprise, I believe government intervention should occur only when necessary. In this situation, action is clearly necessary."

The essence of the plan remains unchanged - the Treasury will still be shelling out $700 billion to buy up bad mortgage-related securities. But there are dramatic changes: the bill calls for greater congressional oversight of the $700 billion, greater measures to protect taxpayers, and a plan to crackdown on 'golden parachutes' given to terminated executives.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto cautioned against expecting any immediate impact on the economy.

"This legislation is to fix a problem in our financial markets," Fratto said. "It's not sold as giving a boost to the economy, but rather preventing a crisis in our economy. If it works as we hope it will, credit will be able to begin flowing again."

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