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Bailout passes; Butterfield votes ‘no’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite pressure from congressional leaders, Representative G.K. Butterfield (D-1st) stuck to his guns here Friday afternoon in voting “no” to the second version of the proposed $700 billion federal financial bailout plan.

However, 32 other members of his party and another 26 from the Republican party changed their minds, turning the tide of the outcome and allowing the controversial bill to pass in the House 263-171.

Wednesday evening, the Senate passed a modified version of Monday’s failed House bill with a vote of 74-26. The version passing in the House Friday was the same as the one passed by the Senate.

North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole voted against the bill Wednesday, while Senator Richard Burr voted for it. Both are Republicans.

President George W. Bush signed the bill into law less than an hour after the House approved its passage, giving the Treasury Secretary immediate authority to purchase up to $700 billion in troubled Wall Street assets.

Butterfield, of Wilson, serves North Carolina’s First Congressional District, which includes all of the Roanoke-Chowan area. He had initially been outspoken in his non-support of the bill, and continued along that vein after the bill’s passage.

“While the bill may provide a bailout for the people responsible for this crisis, it failed to provide the help needed by families and rural communities. In fact, homeowners struggling to keep up with unfair and rising mortgage payments will find little comfort in this legislation. Without stabilizing America’s families and rural communities, we’re never going to stabilize our economy,” Butterfield stated.

He continued, “When Congress reconvenes I will insist that we consider providing bankruptcy judges with the authority to modify the terms of mortgages to better protect responsible homeowners who have been victimized by predatory loans.”

All total, 172 House Democrats voted in favor of the bill with just 62 opposing it, while 91 Republicans said yes and 108 said nay.

During Monday’s failed vote in the first version of the bill, the entire Republican Congressional delegation from North Carolina shot down the proposal, along with three of seven Democrats.

Friday’s vote saw two Republican representatives from North Carolina switch sides – Howard Coble of Greensboro and Sue Myrick of Charlotte.

In recent weeks, the continued failures and buyouts of seemingly safe companies has burdened the financial world, sending the nation’s economy spiraling downward in what many experts are calling the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The bailout bill was pressed on Congress in an effort to begin relieving that burden by jump-starting lending again.

Whether or not it will work remains to be seen.