The Senate’s overwhelming endorsement – 74 to 25 – of the $700 billion rescue for Wall Street last night puts pressure on the House to approve the plan that supporters say would avert a potential economic disaster.
The San Francisco Chronicle noted that the vote united some of the Senate’s most liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both voted for the bill, as did Minnesota’s Norm Coleman, a Republican, and Democrat Amy Klobuchar.
The House rejected, 228 to 205, a similar proposal Monday. In an effort to entice reluctant House members to reverse themselves and vote for the package, the Senate tied the bailout plan to other popular measures, including increasing federal deposit insurance limits, expanding mental-health coverage and extending several tax breaks set to expire at year’s end.
A plunge in the stock markets following the House vote, “compounded by opinion polls suggesting the public is more confused by the plan than opposed to it, led the Senate to add provisions in the hopes of attracting enough votes to pass both chambers this week,” according to the Baltimore Sun.
But will that strategy work when the House takes up the measure, perhaps as early as Friday?
The Chicago Sun-Times says “there were worries that the tax breaks would cause some conservative-leaning Democrats who voted for the rescue Monday to abandon it because it would swell the federal deficit.”
David Rogers, writing in Politico, also warns: “After Monday’s loss in the House, caution is still the watchword in what remains a ticklish political situation.”
But Rogers adds that the Bush administration, which has pushed the plan, was “elated to have topped 70 votes in the Senate, more than most had expected. And this also gives the White House a base from which to work before the House revisits the issue Friday.”
The Los Angeles Times counts House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, among congressional leaders who think the package approved by the Senate had a “much better chance” of passing the House than the measure that was defeated Monday. But he said he was “not taking anything for granted.”
And the Wall Street Journal points out that even if Democrats hold their votes in the House, Republicans will have to find extra support: “The House bill failed Monday on a 228-205 vote: 140 Democrats backed it, representing 60% of the Democratic caucus; Republicans brought 65 votes to bill, about a third of the party’s ranks.”
Supporters of the plan are nonetheless optimistic that some House members will change their minds.
And there are signs that that’s going on: Rep. Jim Ramstad, a retiring Republican from Minnesota who voted against the measure Monday, told the New York Times and others that he now supports the new legislation.
“The inclusion of [mental health] parity, tax extenders and the F.D.I.C. increases has caused me to reconsider my position,” said Ramstad, who has long pushed for parity legislation. “All three additions have greatly improved the bill.”
These and other developments over the past 24 hours have prompted Roll Call to declare: “House Leaders Bullish on Vote.”
Roger Buoen, a MinnPost managing editor, can be reached at rbuoen [at] minnpost [dot] com.