Senate Passes Economic Rescue Package
The Senate version of the bill, which differs from a version that failed in the House of Representative Monday, adds tax cuts for businesses and the middle class.
The changes are meant to appeal to Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted against the measure.
It also raises Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation limits to $250,000 from $100,000 – a move meant to help out small businesses.
Both major presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, and Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden voted for the bill.
"While there's plenty of blame to go around, all of us, all of us, have the responsibility to solve this crisis affecting the financial well-being of every American," said Obama.
Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, who is suffering from brain cancer, was the only one not present at the vote.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the economic rescue plan on either Thursday or Friday, and there leaders are talking to win over opposers to the plan.
Earlier in the day, President George Bush was confident that the bailout would pass.
"It's very important for members to take this bill very seriously," said Bush. "It's important to get credit flowing again so small business and communities will be able to finance their operations."
While the Senate majority leader said the package was controversial, both sides of the aisle argued for its passing.
"After extensive consultation between the majority leader and myself, and the leaders in both parties here in the Senate, we believe that we have crafted a way to go forward and to get us back on track," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"I believe every part of this bill enjoys bipartisan support," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "Every part is aimed directly at the heart of our financial crisis."
Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, Senator Hillary Clinton said the bill has to the American people in mind.
"All assets bought and sold must be available on a publicly-accessible website that discloses the buyers, seller and values of these assets,” said Clinton. “The American people are buying these securities, so the American people must have access to their portfolios."
The surprise decision by the Senate promptly pass the bill is putting pressure on the House to return to the measure and send it to the White House.
The Dow Jones industrial average opened lower in early trading Wednesday morning as anxious investors awaited word from Washington, D.C., and finished only 20 points lower. The Dow jumped 485 points Tuesday on hopes of a new bailout deal.
Obama and McCain spoke to Bush Tuesday and expressed support for increasing the FDIC limit.
Appearing Wednesday morning at the Harry Truman library in Missouri, McCain said that the Senate bill will do more to help ordinary Americans.
"The original proposal was flawed," said the Republican presidential nominee. "I urged additions of taxpayer protections, stronger oversight, limitations on executive compensations and more protection for people's bank accounts."
Before heading to Washington, D.C., Obama held a rally in the Wisconsin Wednesday morning, where he stressed the necessity of passing the bailout.
"This plan is not perfect. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have legitimate concerns about it. I know many Americans share those concerns," said Obama. "It is clear, though, that this is what we must do right now to prevent a crisis from turning into a catastrophe."
He warned of dire consequences if the bailout plan is not passed and blamed the Wall Street debacle on Republican fiscal theories.
"It's the result of an economic philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else; a philosophy that views even the most common sense regulations as unwise," said Obama.
Also on Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton also hit the trail for Obama for the first time, rebuking critics who say he hasn't done enough to support the democratic candidate.
"He's got the right philosophy, he knows you have to grow an economy from the ground up and not from the top down," said the former president.
Meanwhile, according to a new Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday, Barack Obama is gaining ground in three key swing states.
Obama now has a significant lead over John McCain in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. No candidate since 1960 has won the election without taking at least two of these states.
Voters in all three states say Obama did a better job in last Friday's debate by margins of 13 to 17 percent.
More voters say they trust Obama to fix the worsening economy.
Quinnipiac surveyed more than 1,100 voters in each state between September 22-26. The margins of error range from 2.8-2.9 percent.
The economy will certainly be front and center at Thursday's vice presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.
NY1 will carry the debate live, beginning at 9 p.m.