Congress Weighs Next Move On Financial Bailout Senators promised that lawmakers would indeed be back with a bill later this week after they tweak it to pick up more support.
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Congress Weighs Next Move On Financial Bailout

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Congress Weighs Next Move On Financial Bailout

Congress Weighs Next Move On Financial Bailout

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Melissa Block. Calm prevailed today in the markets and on Capitol Hill. It was quite a change from yesterday when the House dramatically rejected the $700 billion financial bailout package. Today, the DOW rose nearly 500 points on hopes that Congress would regroup and try again. The House was not officially in session, today. It took a two-day break for the Jewish New Year. The Senate expects to vote on the financial rescue plan tomorrow night. NPR's David Welna has this report.

DAVID WELNA: For the ninth day in a row, President Bush weighed in early today from the White House on the need for Congress to deliver a financial rescue package.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I recognize this is a difficult vote for members of Congress. Many of them don't like the fact that our economy has reached this point, and I understand that. But the reality is that we're in an urgent situation and the consequences will grow worse each day if we do not act.

WELNA: At the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared he had every intention to act.

Senator HARRY REID (Democrat, Nevada): We're all committed to keeping the progress on this rescue package moving forward.

WELNA: And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went so far as to set a deadline.

Senator MITCH MCCONNELL (Republican, Kentucky): We will get the job done. We will get it done this week and I think, hopefully that will reassure the American people that Congress can rise to the occasion, act like grown-ups, if you will and get the job done for all of our people.

WELNA: Driving the resolve to try again for a bailout package is the fear among many lawmakers that the nation's financial system could soon collapse if nothing's done. New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg who negotiated that the now-rejected bailout on behalf of his caucus, warned today that Congress can't wait any longer.

Senator JUDD GREGG (Republican, New Hampshire): Because the consequences of not passing it are so extraordinary and will be so detrimental to our country and to our people, that it would be totally irresponsible of us to not take this action.

WELNA: But many lawmakers who voted against the bailout yesterday did so after being deluged with calls and messages from constituents opposed to the rescue package. New Mexico Republican Senator Pete Domenici, who is retiring this year, today called on those constituents to give his colleagues some peace.

Senator PETE DOMENICI (Republican, New Mexico): Citizens, to turn some of your members loose, who you're holding hostage by telegram and phone call to allegations that are not right, that are untrue.

WELNA: But other lawmakers continue to oppose the bailout bill on its merits. Senator Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat said there's a real need to rethink what's in that bill.

Senator JIM WEBB (Democrat, Virginia): There are a lot of people who are not playing politics, who do understand the problem, who are doing their job, who still have had grave concerns about the approach that has been taken with this proposed solution.

WELNA: In fact, there are already changes the Senate plans to add to the bailout bill, rejected yesterday. Tomorrow the Senate plans to vote on a revised version of that bill which would include a new provision meant to attract more votes. It would raise the federally insured limit for bank deposits to $250,000 from $100,000. It would also include an extension of tax cuts that's been stalled in Congress. Senator Christopher Dodd, Chairman of the Banking Committee was optimistic about the rescue package moving forward.

Senator CHRISTOPHER DODD (Democrat, Connecticut): I know that those who cast votes yesterday are having some second thoughts about the condition they placed us in and are trying to find a way in which to get back on track again. And so, I'm very optimistic we can do that. I know the White House is now engaged much more aggressively than it has been on this issue, which I welcome. I know that the leadership of the House is also working on this and I don't want to predict things with any great certainty, but I'm quite confident we're moving in the right direction and that we should end up with a very positive result within the next 24 or 48 hours.

WELNA: A senate vote is expected tomorrow evening. David Welna, NPR News.

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