Lawmakers emerged from a negotiation session Thursday saying that they have come to an agreement on a bailout of the financial industry designed to avert a deeper economic crisis.
Warned that time was running short to bolster the distressed economy, congressional Republicans and Democrats reported agreement in principle Thursday on a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, and said they would present it to the Bush administration in hopes of a vote within days.
Emerging from a two-hour negotiating session, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said, “We are very confident that we can act expeditiously.”
“I now expect that we will indeed have a plan that can pass the House, pass the Senate (and) be signed by the president,” said Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah.
The bipartisan consensus on the general direction of the legislation was reported just hours before President Bush was to host presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain and congressional leaders at the White House for discussions on how to clear obstacles to the unpopular rescue plan.
Key lawmakers said at midday that few difficulties actually remained.
“There really isn’t much of a deadlock to break,” said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
Bush told the nation in a televised address Wednesday night that passage of the package his administration has proposed is urgently needed to calm the markets and restore confidence in the reeling financial system. His top spokeswoman, Dana Perino, had told reporters earlier Thursday that “significant progress” was being made.
Financial markets were mixed in early trading; the Dow Jones industrial average rose more than 200 points on optimism about the deal but a credit market squeeze remained as doubts about the proposed plan’s effectiveness drove demand for short-term, safe-haven assets.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush’s agreement with Democrats on limiting pay for executives of bailed out financial institutions and giving taxpayers an equity stake in the companies cleared a significant hurdle.
The core of the plan envisions the government buying up sour assets of shaky financial firms in a bid to keep them from going under and to stave off a potentially severe recession.