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House to Vote on Emergency Financial Bill

The House of Representatives will soon vote on the $700 billion bailout bill for U.S. financial markets. VOA's Dan Robinson reports, while House Republican leaders urged their members to support the legislation, many still voiced opposition.

Facing one of the most difficult votes they have ever taken, Democrats and Republicans voiced their support or opposition to the 110-page bill.

Main elements include authorization for the government to purchase troubled assets and acquire equity in threatened financial firms; creation of a strong oversight board; steps to help Americans avoid loss of their homes; and limits on executive compensation.

Congress would make $250 billion available immediately, followed by $100 billion on an additional certification of need, and another $350 billion subject to a congressional vote.

"We regret being here because we all deeply regret the econ conditions, which have made this decision day necessary," said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank. "No one is happy that we have seen the failure that we have seen in our economic system."

Republican leaders urged their members to vote for the legislation, but also to vote their conscience.

"We are watching one domino after another fall that are the pillars of our financial system here in the United States," said Congressman Adam Putnam.

But while they praised improvements in the legislation worked out in bipartisan negotiations, many Republicans opposed the measure.

"I fear this legislation is fraught with unintended consequences. I fear that ultimately it may not work. I fear it is too much bailout and not enough work out. I fear that taxpayers may end up inheriting the mother of all debts," said Texas Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling.

"It remains in my judgment the largest corporate bailout in American corporate history, forever changes the relationships between government and the financial sector and passes the cost along to the American people and I cannot support it," said Indiana Republican Representative Mike Pence.

Before Monday's debate, President Bush again urged members of Congress to approve the legislation and he sought to calm American's fears:

"Every member of Congress and every American should keep in mind," said Mr. Bush. "A vote for this bill is a vote to prevent economic damage to you and your community."

Approval of the legislation in the U.S. Senate, after a vote of approval by the House, would send the bill to President Bush for his signature.