WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a stunning vote that shocked the capital and worldwide markets, 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 without it.
Stocks plummeted on Wall Street even before the 228-205 vote to reject the bill was officially announced on the House floor.
As a digital screen in the House chamber recorded a cascade of "no" votes against the bailout, Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley of New York shouted news of the falling Dow Jones industrials. "Six hundred points!" he yelled, jabbing his thumb downward. The decline was about 650 points shortly before the close of the trading day.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 29, 2008. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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. Not enough members were willing to take the political risk just five weeks before an election.
"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. "We are ready to continue to work on this," said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
"The legislation may have failed; the crisis is still with us," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in a news conference after the defeat.
Republicans blamed her scathing speech near the close of the debate - which attacked Bush's economic policies and a "right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation" of financial markets - for the current turmoil.
Frank said that was a remarkable accusation by Republicans against Republicans: "because somebody hurt their feelings, they decided to punish the country."
A White House spokesman said Bush was "very disappointed" in the vote.
The president will be meeting with members of his team later in the day "to determine next steps," said spokesman Tony Fratto.