From Les Blumenthal in our D.C. bureau:
While admitting it’s far from a "cure-all" for the nation’s economic ills, Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray says she will support a $700 billion Wall Street bailout package when it comes to the Senate floor this evening.
"It’s an attempt to keep an already bad situation from getting worse," Murray said in a statement. "This is not the legislation I would have written. It’s not legislation I wanted to support.
"But this is not the time to tell American families ‘Sorry, you are on your own’ and hope for the best."
Update: Washington state’s other senator, Democrat Maria Cantwell, voted against the bill, saying she was not "turning the keys of the U.S. Treasury over to the private sector."
In a brief but heated speech on the Senate floor, Cantwell said the bailout essentially represented a misuse of federal tax dollars which are traditionally used to leverage private investment in rescuing ailing companies.
"The problem with the legislation before us is we are choosing winners and losers," she said.
Murray said "I will support this package because the American dream of owning a home or going to college is simply too important to take a back seat to politics or to be put at risk by the misdeeds of Wall Street."
In a lengthy statement, Murray said she had heard not only from such companies as Weyerhaeuser, Microsoft and Avista but also people who are worried the credit crunch may make it impossible for them to get home mortgages or student loans.
"Across the board there is deep and genuine concern about market collapse and the potential impact on jobs, credit and retirement accounts," Murray said, adding she too was angry because the situation was preventable. "But the reality is that those who created the problem won’t be those who are hurt most. The hardest hits will be taken by average Americans."
The bill, which was defeated in the House on Monday, now includes provisions extending major tax breaks, including one allowing the deduction of state and local sales taxes on federal returns. That tax break has saved Washington state residents between $350 million and $500 million annually.