WASHINGTON — President Bush said Tuesday the economic damage to the nation will be "painful and lasting" if Congress fails to pass a $700 billion bailout bill.
Bush said the troubled economy is depending on "decisive action on the part of our government." He spoke a day after the House voted narrowly to defeat the massive relief measure that his administration and leading members of Congress had agreed was necessary.
Bush said he wanted to "assure our citizens and citizens around the world that this is not the end of the legislative process."
He also said "it matters little what path a bill takes to become law. What matters is that we get a law. We're at a critical moment in our economy."
The president said he acknowledges "this is a difficult vote for members of Congress"and that many are uncomfortable with what's transpiring in the economy. But he also declared: "We're in an urgent situation and consequences will grow worse each day we do not act. If our nation continues on this course, the economic damage will be painful and lasting."
"We're facing a choice between action and the real prospect of economic hardship for millions of Americans," Bush added. "For the financial security of many Americans, Congress must act."
The president cited Monday's free fall in the stock market as an ominous, and real, sign of what's to come if a rescue deal isn't approved.
Bush said that administration officials will be talking with congressional leaders on Tuesday on how to keep legislation moving. Congress is on a break for the Jewish holiday.
"The sooner we address the problem, the sooner we can get back to the path of growth, and job creation," he said. "This is what elected leaders owe the American people."