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Democrats Sort Through Options

House Democratic leaders left unclear their plans for moving an economic rescue package forward in the wake of its failure Monday on the House floor. Leaders pledged to continue reaching out to their Republican colleagues and the White House to fashion a bipartisan solution but did not lay out a timeline for action or what the substance of a resuscitated package might include.

The House adjourned until noon Thursday.

“The legislation has failed; the crisis has not gone away,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters in an afternoon press conference.

She said Democrats “extend a hand of cooperation to the White House, to the Republicans, so that we can get this issue resolved for the benefit of working families,” later adding, “What happened today cannot stand. We must move forward, and I hope the markets take that message.”

Democratic leaders pressed the point that they had delivered more than their share of votes for the package by securing 140 Democratic votes, or 60 percent of their Caucus.

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) dismissed a charge from Republican leaders that a partisan floor speech by Pelosi cost the GOP a dozen votes for the package.

“Think about this: ‘Somebody hurt my feelings, so I will punish the country.’ That’s hardly plausible,” he said. Frank made a joking offer that if Republican leaders named the dozen lawmakers that Pelosi’s speech offended, “I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them.”

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