Treasury’s $700 billion rescue plan for the financial markets passed the Senate Wednesday night, giving the White House new confidence it has turned the corner and can win final approval from Congress by Friday.
The 74-25 roll call endorsing the package featured a rare joint-return appearance by the two major presidential candidates, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, both of whom supported the measure.
The Senate galleries, usually empty at night, were packed with visitors on the left and right, and senators voted from their desks as if to underscore the seriousness of the legislation. Shortly before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to capture the moment for posterity, calling this breakthrough “one of the finest moments in the history of the Senate. This is the kind of vote we are sent by our people to cast.”
Majority Leader Harry Reid added that “each United States senator this evening is facing a critical test of leadership.”
A second vote was needed immediately after to complete final passage, but that is not in doubt. The first vote Wednesday night was the bigger test and the administration is betting that with this bipartisan showing, it can marginalize the remaining opposition in the House, due to vote Friday....
[T]he revised Senate package blends in more than $100 billion in popular tax breaks as well as aid to rural schools important to House Republicans. And to build support among small town community banks, the bill raises the cap on insured deposits from $100,000 to $250,000.