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Senate Moves to Pressure House to Agree to Bush's Bailout Plan - It's His Legacy, After All - But Is It Your Final Fleecing?
President Bush's plan to rescue U.S. financial markets is headed for a Senate vote Wednesday night after leaders there agreed to add tax breaks for businesses and the middle class and increase deposit insurance in an attempt to revive the legislation rejected by the House.
The surprise move by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared likely to win a big vote in the Senate that would put pressure on the House to go along and send the measure to the White House.
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and his GOP rival, John McCain, planned to fly to Washington for the Senate vote, as did Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Adding a set of popular business tax breaks and legislation to prevent more than 20 million middle-class taxpayers from feeling the bite of the alternative minimum tax promised to win House GOP votes for the plan even as it angered moderate "Blue Dog" Democrats concerned about the tax cuts adding to the deficit.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a statement that suggested she does not like the move but did not reveal her plans. Another House vote on the rescue plan could come by week's end.
"The Senate will vote tomorrow night and the Congress will work its will," Pelosi said Tuesday. The expected support of both Obama and McCain, however, makes it difficult for Pelosi to ship the measure back to the Senate with a different set of vote-getting add-ons.
The Senate legislation also will contain an increase in the government's $100,000 cap on insured bank deposits, part of a move by lawmakers, Bush and the two presidential candidates to try to reassure markets that the plan will pass this week.
The measure failed in the House on Monday in a stunning vote that shook the stock and credit markets. Though the Dow Jones industrials rebounded Tuesday, supporters of the administration's plan said passage by week's end still was a must.
The House vote was a stinging setback to leaders of both parties. The administration's proposal, still the heart of the legislation under consideration, would allow the government to buy bad mortgages and other deficient assets held by troubled financial institutions. If successful, advocates of the plan believe, that would help lift a major weight off the already sputtering national economy.