HOUSE APPROVES BAILOUT BILL…. I guess the second time was the charm.

Congress has passed complex and highly criticized legislation authorizing $700 billion in government money to shore up the nation’s stressed financial industry.

The 263-171 vote by the House sends the Senate-passed version to the White House for President Bush’s signature. Among many features, the measure would allow the Treasury Department to buy up bad debt from various lending institutions.

Many members of the House voted for the bill even though some said it was not very attractive to them and to their constituents back home. The measure had been defeated in the same chamber on Monday, sending stocks on Wall Street into a record slide.

Given recent events, the partisan breakdown matters quite a bit. On Monday, 60% of the Democratic caucus supported the bill (140 to 95), while 34% of Republicans supported it (65 to 133).

Today, both parties had plenty of vote-switchers, but it was still Democrats who were responsible for passage. Democrats voted 172 to 63 in support of the bailout/rescue (73% of the caucus), while Republicans voted 91 to 108 in support (about 45% of the caucus).

In other words, even now, McCain, Boehner, and Bush couldn’t get a majority of House Republicans to follow their lead. Interesting.

One thing to keep an eye on: watch to see how many House Democrats say they switched because of the work of Barack Obama. The New York Times reported, “Several Democrats in the Congressional Black Caucus said they were persuaded to support the bill by Senator Barack Obama, the party’s presidential nominees.”

We may soon see a dynamic in which Obama can legitimately claim credit for the passage of the legislation, while McCain, despite all of his bluster and boasts, couldn’t do what he said he intended to do.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.