At Obama's Request, Bush Seeks Bailout Money

The White House says President Bush, at President-elect Barack Obama's request, has asked Congress to release the remaining $350 billion intended to help the nation deal with its financial crisis.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said Bush acted Monday after the request was made. She said the Bush White House will continue working with Obama's transition team and with Congress on how best to proceed with the release of the money.

The idea is to make the money available to the new administration shortly after Obama takes office Jan. 20. The unpopular bailout has featured unconditional infusions of money into financial institutions that have done little to account for it.

"I have talked to the president-elect about this subject and I told him if he felt he needed the $350 billion that I would ask for it," Bush said at a news conference earlier Monday. "He hasn't asked me to make the request yet and I don't intend to make the request unless he specifically asks for it."

Shortly after the news conference, the White House announced Obama had made the request.

The request would give Obama the opportunity not only to get access to the money but also to change its goals and conditions. The Bush administration's handling of the first $350 billion has come under widespread criticism in Congress and from watchdog organizations.

Obama had signaled that he was eager to use the money to help reduce the number of mortgage foreclosures and that he wanted to place greater restrictions on institutions that receive the funds.

The move comes as Democrats in the House of Representatives are preparing to act on legislation that had some of the same intentions.

From NPR staff and wire reports

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