"One thing the American people have to know is that all of us around the table take this issue very seriously and we know we've got to get something done as quickly as possible," Bush said. "And this meeting is an attempt to move the process forward. My hope is that we can reach an agreement very shortly."
But Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, emerged from the White House meeting to tell reporters he was unhappy with the details.
"It's flawed from the beginning," Shelby said of the "agreement of principles."
Standing outside of the West Wing of the White House, Shelby added, "That agreement is obviously no agreement."
Asked about the tenor of the meeting inside the White House, Shelby said, "Sens. McCain and Obama were being senators. ... They were very courteous of each other and very respectful."
Shelby held up a bundle of papers, saying he has "five pages" of leading economists saying Congress should be considering alternatives to the Paulson plan.
ABC News' Jennifer Parker and Ann Compton contributed to this report.