Congress Restarts Troubled Bailout Talks

By: CBS/AP
By: CBS/AP

(CBS/AP) As lawmakers arranged to resume difficult closed-door negotiations, leading Democrats said that a compromise on the president's economic rescue plan which looked after the interests of both Main Street and Wall Street was possible, and could be finalized shortly, despite the opposition of House Republicans who derailed a brokered agreement yesterday.

"We're going to get this done and stay in session as long as it takes to get it done," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this morning. "We'll work with the president, modify his plan to make it better for taxpayers and homeowners."

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said Democrats and "serious Republicans" were working in good faith to respond to the financial crisis that he said was caused by the administration, a situation "which all of us find tragic.

"This should not have happened. This was an avoidable, preventable situation we're in today. This was not a Gustav or an Ike. This was a man-made problem, avoidable problem. We are where we are and we need to respond to it," Dodd said.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, struggling to keep an emerging bipartisan accord on the plan from imploding, was set to attend the restart of talks at midday. House Republicans said they would send a top leader to the closed-door session after the House GOP earlier boycotted bargaining on an emerging bipartisan agreement, calling it unacceptable.

"I think we've made a good deal of progress since yesterday," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "Indications are that House Republicans are also interested in being a part of the process."

Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2 House Republican leader, was set to attend talks with key lawmakers.

As Washington tried to settle on a compromise economic plan aimed at shoring up struggling banks and calming a jittery Wall Street, President George W. Bush repeated his push for acceptance of a $700 billion bailout package that has been rejected by some House Republicans.

"Our proposal is a big proposal, and the reason it's big and substantial is because we've got a big problem," Mr. Bush said Friday morning. "We also need to move quickly.

"There are disagreements over aspects of the rescue plan, but there is no disagreement that something substantial must be done," he said.

Our proposal is a big proposal, and the reason it's big and substantial is because we've got a big problem.

President George W. BushAlluding to yesterday's White House meeting of Congressional leaders and Mr. Bush's key economic advisors, during which the rug was pulled from under a tentative agreement over the administration's plan, Mr. Bush said, "The legislative process is sometimes not very pretty. But we are going to get a package passed. We will rise to the occasion. Republicans and Democrats will come together and pass a substantial rescue plan."

The president encouraged the continuation of the process and the necessity of passing the package quickly, and began working the phones (according to Counselor to the President Ed Gillespie) to get the support in Congress he needs.

According to CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller, Gillespie conceded the concerns of some of the plan's opponents are "legitimate," but that Mr. Bush will stress the urgency of quick action - and the dire consequences if there is none.

Gillespie said Mr. Bush will "probably not" make a high-profile trip to Capitol Hill to press his case.

A Bad Day For The G.O.P.

Even for a party whose president suffers dismal approval ratings, whose legislative wing lost control of Congress and whose presidential nominee trails in the polls, Thursday was a remarkably bad day for Republicans.

CBS News correspondent Chip Reid reports that at one point Thursday afternoon it looked like a compromise on the $700 billion bailout was made when a bipartisan group of senators announced the outlines of a bailout deal.

Three hours later, when presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama arrived at the White House for a meeting with Mr. Bush and congressional leaders, it appeared all they had to do was give the agreement their blessing.

But that's when the rollercoaster ride began.

The White House summit called principally to seal the deal that President Bush has argued is indispensable to stabilizing frenzied markets and to reassure the nervous American public descended into arguments - mostly among Republicans.

Democrats had demanded a number of changes in his $700 billion bailout plan, but administration insiders signaled they probably were acceptable. They included greater oversight, more protections for taxpayers, efforts to head off home foreclosures, and piecemeal allocations of the federal money to buy toxic mortgage securities rather than dropping $700 billion all at once.


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