U.S. congressional leaders have resumed talks on a $700 billion
financial rescue package. The difficult talks resumed after the
negotiators agreed to consider proposals from House Republicans, whose
opposition to a White House backed plan had threatened to scuttle it.
VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.
Just hours before
the talks resumed, President Bush acknowledged that disagreements
remain over aspects of the massive financial rescue plan, but he said
there is no disagreement that something substantial must be done.
to reporters at the White House, Mr. Bush sought to reassure financial
markets that a deal would be reached to avert an economic crisis.
"We will rise to the occasion," he said. "Republicans and Democrats will come together and pass a substantial rescue plan."
White House meeting a day earlier with President Bush, congressional
leaders and presidential candidates, Republican John McCain and
Democrat Barack Obama, failed to reach agreement. After word that a
bipartisan agreement in principle had been reached on a plan, House
Republicans refused to go along.
That plan would allow the
government to take over billions of dollars worth of bad home loans and
other mortgage-based assets held by investment firms and banks.
Several of the country's largest financial institutions have collapsed
under the weight of the faulty investments, threatening an even bigger
The plan under consideration would give
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson $250 billion immediately to begin
buying up bad loans, and $100 billion more after certifying that the
funds are necessary. An additional $350 billion could be turned over
without additional congressional approval, although Congress would have
30 days to object.
The plan would include strong oversight of the bailout program and ban excessive compensation for executives at failing firms.
fiscal conservatives argue that taxpayer funds should not be bailing
out failed institutions who made bad loans. Public opinion polls show
that most Americans agree.
"Our goal here in attempting to come
to agreement is to do our best to protect American taxpayers," said Congressman John Boehner of Ohio, House Republican leader. "There are a lot of options in terms of how we do that. We
are not going to negotiate in front of all of you."
Republicans refused to take part in negotiations on the rescue plan
late Thursday. But Friday, after President Bush called Congressman
Boehner and Senator McCain met with the Republican leader, the number
two Republican in the House, Congressman Roy Blunt of Missouri, agreed
to take part in the latest talks.
Democrats say they will not
vote for a package that does not have substantial Republican support.
They want Republicans to share any political fallout that may result
from passage of a such an expensive rescue plan.
Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid says with help from lawmakers
from the other party, a rescue package could be approved by the time
financial markets open Monday morning, something the White House has
"We could have this done by midnight tonight," he
said. "We could start drafting it tomorrow. We could vote on it Sunday
In related action, Senate Republicans have blocked a
proposal for $56 billion in spending to stimulate the faltering U.S.
economy. The economic stimulus package would have extended
unemployment benefits, increased food aid to the poor and funded
job-creation programs. Republicans have strongly objected to the
additional spending, saying it would increase the ballooning federal
deficit and lead to higher taxes.