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House Leaders Count Votes, Target GOP Holdouts in Attempt to Pass Rescue Package

Speaking Thursday to reporters at the White House, President Bush said “a lot of people are watching” to see whether the House of Representatives will “act positively on a bill that has been improved” and said the crisis “has gone way beyond New York and Wall Street.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday they would not bring a bill to the floor that did not have the votes.

Because passage of the bailout package was never in doubt in the Senate, lawmakers there tried to infuse incentives for the House, including $100 billion in tax breaks for businesses and the middle class, and a provision to raise the amount of money protected in bank accounts from $100,000 to $250,000.

House Republicans were also encouraged by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision to ease mark-to-market rules that force companies to devalue assets on their balance sheets to reflect the price they can get on the market.

Leaders are trying to change the minds of 12 of the 133 Republicans and 95 Democrats who voted no on Monday. But they also risk losing some of the members who voted yes if the incentives go too far.

By the afternoon, there were signs of some shift. Rep. Zach Wamp, R- Tenn., announced he was switching his vote to yes.

“If some of us don’t change our vote, tomorrow’s going to be a real ugly day in America, and I don’t want to be a part of that,” Wamp told Fox News Channel.

Republican Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona, said he would likely support the new bill, and Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio said he was “getting there.”

Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, said he would change his vote.

“America feels differently today than it did on Friday about this bill, and he believes the House vote tomorrow will reflect that shift,” said Danny Rotert, his spokesman, according to the Associated Press.

But Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said he wants to see a mechanism to pay for the bailout and more help for homeowners staring at foreclosure. “He’s not on board yet,” said Lucia Graves, the spokeswoman.

His colleague, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said he still opposed the bill, which he called fundamentally flawed, despite Senate inclusion of a program that gives money to rural counties hurt by federal logging cutbacks.

And Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said she does not support the legislation “because it’s the wrong medicine.” Kaptur told ABC News the problem should be solved by the market itself, not through governmental intervention.

Meanwhile, bad economic news continued to flow. A government report said that orders to U.S. factories plunged by the largest amount in nearly two years and stocks declined after the number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to a seven-year high.

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