The House today passed a far-reaching and historic plan to bail out the nation’s financial system.

“I applaud the action taken by the Congress,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. “The legislation is a critical step toward stabilizing our financial markets and ensuring an uninterrupted flow of credit to households and businesses.”

President Bush, speaking less than an hour after the House voted 263 to 171 to pass the bill, is expected to sign it later today.

The House defeated a similar measure Monday, shocking the markets and congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle.