Congress was expected to vote this afternoon on the $700 billion financial bailout package, after the contentious bill passed a key test in the House this morning.
The House of Representatives on Monday morning voted 220 to 198 to move the bill forward, the Associated Press reported. A final vote is expected by midday. The Senate is expected to follow later in the week, the AP said.
The legislation, which allows the government to buy up toxic mortgage-related securities clogging up bank balance sheets, will bring the biggest government intervention in the nation's financial markets since the Great Depression, the report noted. President George W. Bush, addressing reporters Monday morning, said he was confident lawmakers would approve the legislation.
"I fully understand that this will be a difficult vote," Bush said according to a transcript of his remarks. "But with the improvements made to this bill, I'm confident that members of both parties will support it. Congress can send a strong signal to markets at home and abroad by passing this bill promptly. Every member of Congress and every American should keep in mind: A vote for this bill is a vote to prevent economic damage to you and your community."Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in a statement issued Monday morning, praised Congress and the Bush administration for working out an agreement.
"This legislation should help to restore the flow of credit to households and businesses that is essential for economic growth and job creation, while at the same time affording strong and necessary protections for taxpayers," the Fed chairman said.