Bailout Bill Passes UPDATED

Jeremy Elwood, SBJ ReporterIt’s official – the federal government is spending as much as $700 billion in an attempt to bail out Wall Street.

“We have acted boldly to help prevent the crisis on Wall Street from becoming a crisis in communities across our country,” said President Bush shortly after signing the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 into law.

The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 263-171 in favor of the revised bill, just four days after shooting down the first version of the proposal; the Senate had amended and passed the bailout bill on Wednesday. Missouri’s House delegates voted 5-4 in favor of the bill.

“I think we took a proposal that was not very well communicated and, frankly, not very well developed from the administration and turned it into something that works for taxpayers and will have impact on the economy,” House Minority Whip and southwest Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt said in a conference call this afternoon.

The core of the bill remains the same: The Treasury Department now can spend up to $700 billion to buy bad mortgage-related securities that are rapidly sinking financial institutions and slowing credit markets.

Blunt was quick to characterize the $700 billion not as an expense but as an investment.

“Americans lost about $1.5 trillion in the value of their stocks and pension plans on Monday” after the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by nearly 800 points, Blunt said. “That’s a lot worse than taxpayers investing $700 billion … especially when taxpayers should get that money back.”

The main changes were in provisions added by the Senate, including an increase in the FDIC deposit insurance limit – from $100,000 to $250,000 per account – as well as incentives for energy conservation and income tax relief.

The key to passing the bill the second time around, Blunt said, was partly the new additions to the bill and partly an advantage bill proponents didn’t have before Monday’s vote: Time.

“We didn’t get a bill our members could see until about seven o’clock Sunday night, and we couldn’t talk to members until about nine o’clock Monday morning,” Blunt said. “Then with the deadline to get out of town because of … Rosh Hashanah, we had announced when we were going to have the vote – never a good idea when you’re trying to gather votes.”

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