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House defeats $700 billion bailout package

The House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue for the nation’s financial system, ignoring urgent warnings from President Bush and congressional leaders of both parties that the economy could nosedive into recession without it.

Stocks plummeted on Wall Street even before the 228-205 vote to reject the bill was announced on the House floor.

Bush and a host of leading congressional figures had implored the lawmakers to pass the legislation despite howls of protest from their constituents back home. Despite pressure from supporters, not enough members were willing to take the political risk just five weeks before an election.

Ample no votes came from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. More than two-thirds of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats opposed the bill.

The overriding question for congressional leaders was what to do next. Congress has been trying to adjourn so that its members can go out and campaign. And with only five weeks left until Election Day, there was no clear indication of whether the leadership would keep them in Washington. Leaders were huddling after the vote to figure out their next steps.

A White House spokesman said that President Bush was “very disappointed.”