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Sweetened Bailout Bill Sails Through House

Updated from 3:15 p.m. EDT.

The $700 billion financial rescue plan found approval on its second trip before the House of Representatives, with members voting to purchase illiquid assets from the financial system in addition to several amendments made by the Senate.

The House voted 263 to 171 in favor of the legislation, which is expected to ease strains in the credit markets and help kick-start the economy. All three major U.S. stock indices pulled back from their session highs on the plan's passage, but remained in positive territory.

Approval of the $700-billion plan comes four days after the House unexpectedly rejected an earlier version, sending stocks into a tailspin. During Monday's vote, only 205 representatives voted to pass the bill.

On Wednesday, the Senate gave the legislation -- known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP -- resounding approval with a 74 to 25 vote, although the Senate inserted several measures in an effort to gain support from House members who originally rejected the bill.

Among the tax breaks added to the TARP proposal was one that would allow middle-class taxpayers to avoid the controversial alternative minimum tax. The AMT was put in place to garner more tax revenue from the wealthy, but has been criticized for pinching the middle-class as well. Another measure provided exemptions for research and development, as well as renewable energy, to help spur economic growth.

Another addition lifted the amount of funds that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will cover in an individual bank account, to $250,000 from $100,000. The boost in insured deposits was a popular measure that found support on both sides of the aisle.
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