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US Congress Approves Huge Financial Bailout; Bush Quickly Signs


The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a historic and controversial 700 billion-dollar government rescue plan for the battered financial industry.

The vote was 263 to 171. President George Bush quickly signed the measure into law Friday. The Senate passed it Wednesday. Mr. Bush thanked Democrats for helping to pass the measure, but warned it will take time for the bill to put the economy back on track.

The measure allows the government to buy failing investments from troubled financial companies in an effort to restore lender and investor confidence, and to restart lending and economic growth. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says he will get right to work hiring experts needed to manage the program. U.S. Federal Reserve (central bank) chairman Ben Bernanke says he will continue using all the tools at his disposal to ease the credit crunch and get the economy growing again.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, promised to hold a congressional hearing to investigate parts of the financial industry. Before the vote, House (Democratic) Majority Leader Steny Hoyer urged his colleagues to approve the package. He said the problems of investors on Wall Street are hurting the jobs, retirements and homes of millions of ordinary Americans.(Republican) Minority Leader John Boehner also supported the measure, telling colleagues that failure to act could bring an economic slump "the likes of which few of us have ever seen."

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