Furious lobbying for much-maligned bailout bill

Financial Crisis Posted on

President Bush and congressional leaders conducted fierce eleventh-hour lobbying Thursday for enough House votes to push the $700 billion financial industry bailout bill to the finish line.

Bush said "a lot of people are watching" and he kept up his pleas from the White House as Democratic and Republican party leaders worked over wayward colleagues wherever they could find them. Bush argued that the measure represents the "best chance" to calm unnerved financial markets and ease a widening credit crunch.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking House Democrat, said that his party won't put the bill up for the vote planned for Friday unless lawmakers are sure it will pass.

Speaking to reporters during a meeting with business executives, Bush said the increasingly tight credit markets are in some instances threatening the existence of small businesses. He said Congress "must listen" to those arguing for passage of the bill, derided by many on Capitol Hill and within the general public as a handout to a risk-taking Wall Street.

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