Did caustic comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bring about the surprising defeat of the $700 financial bailout bill?
Republicans blamed Pelosi's scathing speech near the close of Monday's 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 vote's failure.
"We could have gotten there today had it not been for the partisan speech that the speaker gave on the floor of the House," Minority Leader John Boehner said.
Pelosi's words, the Ohio Republican said, "poisoned our conference, caused a number of members that we thought we could get, to go south."
Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the whip, estimated that Pelosi's speech changed the minds of a dozen Republicans who might otherwise have supported the plan.
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Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said that was a remarkable accusation by Republicans against Republicans.
"Because somebody hurt their feelings, they decided to punish the country," he said.
Monday's action had been preceded by unusually aggressive White House lobbying, with Bush making calls to lawmakers until shortly before the vote.
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. But not enough members were willing to take the political risk just five weeks before an election.
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 Dow closed down 777 points.