WASHINGTON, September 29, 2008 (AFP) – Shocked, open-mouthed and fearful US lawmakers stood in the well of the House of Representatives Monday, dumbfounded by the magnitude of the chamber’s decision to kill a bid to save Wall Street.
Democratic and Republican party leaders who had battled to pass a 700 billion dollar bailout bill, stared in disbelief as an electronic vote counter ticked down on the doomsday scenario many feared if the bill went down.
Several members who backed the plan, hammered out in midnight-oil-burning talks between the parties and the White House over the weekend, left their colleagues in no doubt about the price for rejection.
“400 … 500” one member shouted, relaying the points loss from the plummeting stock markets as Democratic leaders held the vote open while Republican counterparts tried to twist arms of conservative holdouts.
Democratic House Majority leader Steny Hoyer toured the benches of the recalcitrant conservatives with minority leader John Boehner and minority whip Roy Blunt, normal party allegiance cast aside.
But conservative Republicans who warned the bill crushed cherished American economic freedoms, sat stonily staring at their BlackBerrys, refusing exortations to cha