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The Big Bailout

Last week Congress approved the biggest bailout in history.

The law allows the Treasury Secretary to purchase as much as $700 billion in troubled assets in a bid to kick-start lending, ushers in one of the most far-reaching interventions in the economy since the Great Depression.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he welcomed the news. "The legislation is a critical step toward stabilizing our financial markets and ensuring an uninterrupted flow of credit to households and businesses," he said.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said he would act swiftly but "methodically" to carry out the plan.

"The broad authorities in this legislation, when combined with existing regulatory authorities and resources, gives us the ability to protect and recapitalize our financial system as we work through the stresses in our credit markets," Paulson said.

According to voting results, 172 Democrats voted in favor of the bill while 62 opposed it; and 91 Republicans voted for it and 108 voted against it.