The US Senate has passed the bailout bill - pardon me, the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008" - 74-25 (Ted Kennedy was absent because of his health) tonight with Barack Obama, Joe Biden and John McCain all voting yes. Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker also voted for the measure. What opposition there was came primarily from Senators in tight reelection races like North Carolina's Elizabeth Dole.
To get the bill through the Senate so convincingly and hopefully persuade reluctant US House members to give their nod by Friday the bill was altered somewhat from the one that failed on Monday (the following comes from CQ Politics):
The Senate bill adds a provision that would expand, through 2009, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. protection for bank accounts. The bill would temporarily increase insurance coverage to $250,000 per account, up from $100,000. That is designed to help small businesses and community banks in particular.
In a bid to lure House Republicans who voted against the bailout earlier this week, the Senate also added its proposal (HR 6049) to extend expiring tax provisions. The tax measure would stop the alternative minimum tax (AMT) from reaching into the pockets of millions more Americans; expand existing tax breaks for renewable energy, and renew the research and development credit for businesses.
House Republicans prefer the Senate version of the “extenders” measure, which is only partially offset with revenue raisers. House Democrats have been trying to pass extenders legislation with full offsets for all but disaster tax relief and the AMT patch.
I still have misgivings about the rush to give private financial firms a large public fiduciary assist. The bill now before Congress is much better than the blank check President Bush and Secretary Paulson initially wanted, though. I hope if it does pass the House that it helps individuals and small businesses as we're being assured it will by its supporters. Otherwise, we will have done little more than reward bad business practices while placing another long-term financial burden on the middle class.