Senate Passes Economic Rescue Plan

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Senators passed a sweetened version of the $700 billion financial rescue package they say is more a rescue deal for Main Street than a bailout for Wall Street.

After failing in the House Monday, the economic plan coasted through the Senate with a 74-25 vote Wednesday. Only 60 votes were needed to pass the legislation.

"This doesn't entirely solve all our problems," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the vote. "But it begins to move us in the right direction."

McConnell, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, introduced a revised rescue package to Senate on Tuesday, and remained confident that the plan would pass.

"I believe that this legislative package will ensure that the needs of Main Street are not forgotten," Reid said. Wednesday night he described the efforts of Banking Committee chairmen Chris Dodd and others as "remarkable."

With the Senate's help, the package was revamped with "sweeteners," in hopes of gaining approval from weary lawmakers. Changes included an additional $110 billion in tax breaks for businesses and the middle class, along with a plan to raise the federal deposit insurance cap to $250,000 -- a measure John McCain and Barack Obama urged earlier this week.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who voted no Monday, said today that the changes mean he could now support the legislation.

"We'll be getting a much better bill," Cuellar said. "To me, that's a victory by itself."

The revised legislation also includes a "Mental Health Parity" requiring health insurance companies to cover mental illness the same way they'd cover physical illness.

Now, the new plan will head to the House for a second vote, expected by Friday, and the pressure is on.

Some fear the billion dollar tax breaks included in the Senate additions will turn off left-leaning House Democrats who voted for the bill Monday.

"I'm concerned about that," Rep. Steny Hoyer said. Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, admitted the added tax exemptions may result in fewer House Democrats supporting the proposal.

"There's no doubt the tax package is very controversial. The Senate, in my opinion, is adding that on because they think that's the only way they can get it passed," he said earlier Wednesday.

Twelve votes are needed to overturn Monday's decision in the House, assuming those who favored the plan then will continue to do so.

Both presidential candidates left the campaign trail to cast their vote, along with vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden.

"This is what we need to do right now to prevent the possibility of a crisis turning into a catastrophe," Obama said on the Senate floor.

"If we fail to act, the gears of our economy will grind to a halt," McCain said in Missouri, before flying to Washington.

Before the vote, President Bush said he was confident the bill will pass Congress. He urged a prompt approval before the financial crisis gets worse.

"It's very important for members to take this bill very seriously," he said. "It's important to get credit flowing again."

Sources: CBN News, Associated Press, CNN, Reuters

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