Bush implores Congress to act to rescue markets

(AP) - President Bush said Tuesday the economic damage to the nation will be "painful and lasting" if Congressfails to pass a $700 billion bailout bill.

Watch the president's comments

The president's latest statement on the financial crisis, arenewed mix of reassurances and warnings, came a day after theHouse voted narrowly to defeat the massive relief measure that hisadministration had negotiated with leading members of Congress. Thefailure of the plan stunned Washington and Wall Street.

"We're facing a choice between action and the real prospect ofeconomic hardship for millions of Americans," Bush said in briefcomments in the White House Diplomatic Reception Room. "And forthe financial security of every American, Congress must act."

The two men who want Bush's job, Republican Sen. John McCain andDemocratic Sen. Barack Obama, both called the president Tuesdaymorning. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the twopresidential contenders each offered ideas on what to do next, andreaffirmed that the crisis must be addressed.

"Both calls were very constructive," Fratto said. The WhiteHouse will not comment on specific ideas as it tries to work out adeal with Congress, he said.

Bush sought to reassure the jittery markets that the breakdownon Capitol Hill was temporary.

"It matters little what a path a bill takes to become law," hesaid. "What matters is that we get a law."

Administration officials were talking to congressional leaderson Tuesday on how to keep legislation moving. Congress is on abreak for the Jewish New Year.

"I recognize this is a difficult vote for members ofCongress," Bush said. "Many of them don't like the fact that oureconomy has reached this point, and I understand that. But thereality is that we are in an urgent situation, and the consequenceswill grow worse each day if we do not act."

The House voted 228-205 Monday against the bill designed tostabilize a reeling financial system. Of those voting no, 133 werefrom Bush's own party. The defeat triggered the biggest one-daysell-off on Wall Street since the September 2001 terrorist attacks,as the Dow Jones industrial plummeted by 778 points.

"The dramatic drop in the stock market that we saw yesterdaywill have a direct impact on the retirement accounts, pensionfunds, and personal savings of millions of our citizens," Bushsaid. "And if our nation continues on this course, the economicdamage will be painful and lasting."

Under the plan, the government would take over huge amounts ofdevalued assets from beleaguered financial companies in hopes ofunlocking frozen credit.

The economic troubles in the United States have shaken globalmarkets. Accordingly, Bush targeted his comments to a worldwideaudience.

"I assure our citizens - and citizens around the world - thatthis is not the end of the legislative process," he said.

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