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WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives rejected a $700 billion bailout today following extended debate where many members, including some who brokered the deal with it, was highly unpopular.
The preliminary vote was 185-197. Members had a limited amount of time to change their votes. Following the deadline, the margin was growing for those opposed to the measure.
Even as the electronic roll call began, Democratic and Republican leaders were uncertain about having enough votes to pass the politically unpopular plan. It’s the most sweeping government intervention in markets since the Great Depression.
The bailout puts in place an unprecedented federal program to buy up rotten assets from cash-starved firms. The goal is to free up choked credit that was threatening to cause broader market turmoil.
“Many of us feel that the national interest requires us to do something which is, in many ways, unpopular,” said Rep. Barney Frank, the Financial Services Committee chairman, before the vote. “It is hard to get political credit for avoiding something that has not yet happened.”
The bill was the product of marathon bargaining over the weekend among various House and Senate representatives.