In a symbolic vote, the House voted to reject President Barack Obama's request for the unspent $350 billion in a bailout fund for the financial sector. The 270-155 tally was a moot point because the Senate had refused to block the release of the money last week. That effectively made it available to the new administration.
The vote let Obama know that in seeking to shore up a shaky financial sector, he, like Bush before him, is operating on shaky political ground, even as the weakened banking industry continues to roil the stock markets.
Eager to signal a change, the Obama administration promised to force bankers to report their lending activity on a quarterly basis and to meet tougher executive pay requirements. From the podium of the White House briefing room and in written responses to senators, Obama officials pledged to ensure that the money is used to extend credit to small businesses and consumers.