With the economy on the brink and elections looming, Congress approved an unprecedented $700 billion government bailout of the battered financial industry on Friday and sent it to President Bush for his certain signature.

The final vote was 263-171 in the House, a comfortable margin that was 58 more votes than the measure garnered in Monday's stunning defeat. The vote capped two weeks of tumult in Congress and on Wall Street, punctuated by daily warnings that the country confronted the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression if lawmakers failed to act.

At the White House, Bush declared, "We have acted boldly to prevent the crisis on Wall Street from becoming a crisis in communities across our country."

- Read the full Associated Press story.

- Monitor the markets' reax at Reuters .

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