President Bush Pushes Bailout Plan; House Republicans Resist

Republican leadership has so far resisted the bailout plan.

September 26, 2008, 8:35 AM

Sept. 26, 2008— -- President Bush and Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain pleaded with GOP members of the House to end their party rebellion and quickly approve a Wall Street bailout plan.

It remains to be seen whether the Republican Party's two top officials could persuade the House members to come up with a deal to support Bush's blueprint for a $700 billion economic rescue.

At a meeting scheduled for Friday afternoon on Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers failed to show up. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said the Republicans were a no-show due to a "miscommunication."

House Democrats said staff members from both parties, however, were working to finalize a bill they believed would be completed by the weekend.

Sources in the Senate told ABC News's George Stephanopoulos that a final vote on that bill would be "unlikely" until Wednesday of next week.

"The need is clear, the solution is being debated, and time is growing short," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Pelosi and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said it was important that any bill be the product of an agreement by members of both parties and from both houses, in order to ensure President Bush's approval and to prevent the bailout from becoming an issue in the presidential election.

Frank took a swipe at McCain, blaming him for Thursday's "setback."

"We're back on track now that McCain is in Mississippi," he said. "I'm convinced by Sunday we'll have an agreement."

Bush was the first to appeal to the Republican Party's balky members. In a brief appearance at the White House this morning, the president urged Congress to approve Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's economic bailout, following Thursday night's 11th -hour breakdown in talks.

"Anytime you've got a plan this big moving this quickly that requires legislative approval it creates challenges," Bush said.

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

"The legislative process is sometimes not very pretty, but we are going to get a package passed," Bush said. "We will rise to the occasion. Republicans and Democrats will come together and pass a substantial rescue plan."

McCain, who had threatened to skip tonight's presidential debate unless a deal was set, was even more blunt when he met with the Republican Party's leadership caucus this morning.

"We need a deal. We need a deal. We need a deal," he said according to a senior House leadership aide.

A short time later McCain's campaign said he would be heading to the debate in Oxford, Miss., and issued a statement suggesting that his opponents had used the crisis for political purposes.

"At a moment of crisis that threatened the economic security of American families, Washington played the blame game rather than work together to find a solution that would avert a collapse of financial markets," the statement said.

While there isn't a yet deal, "He is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who Thursday blamed McCain for stalling the process, reiterated today that the politics of the presidential election should not interfere with negotiations.

"We don't need presidential politics in this. The two presidential aspirants are not members of the Banking Committee and never were," he said.

Reid said the Democrats were working towards a bipartisan deal, but laid the blame for the economic crisis on Republicans.

"I asked for [Sen. McCain] to take a stand on the issue. But all he has done is stand in front of the cameras. We still don't know where he stands on the issue," he said.

Aboard a plane on his way to the presidential debate Mississippi, Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama echoed the Senate majority leader, saying presidential politics should not play a role in the bailout negotiations.

"At this point, my strong sense is the best thing I can do is ... go to Mississippi and explain to the American people what is going on and what my plan is for this country for next four years," Obama said.

Democrats and Republicans were scheduled to get back to the bargaining table today, but the collapse of Thursday night's talks was so bitter it wasn't clear whether the House Republicans were even going to show up.

Democrats and Republicans both predicted that an agreement would be reached, but they were far apart when the talks fell apart about 10 p.m. Thursday. They blamed one another, particularly McCain and Obama, for the collapse.

On Friday morning, the White House said it was lowering its expectations that a deal could be struck by the end of the day.

Vice President Dick Cheney canceled his weekend plans to attend fundraisers in New Mexico and Wyoming in order to remain in Washington, deal with the crisis and -- if necessary -- break a tie in Congress if a deal is struck.

The breakdown in talks at the White House took place moments after the federal government ordered the shutdown of Washington Mutual, the nation's largest savings and loan bank and the latest casualty of the financial crisis.

Following a quick auction, JPMorgan Chase & Co. bought the bank's functional assets for $1.9 billion.

Bush and Paulson have emphasized that it is urgent that an agreement to stabilize the credit markets be reached by Monday.

"If money's not loosened, this sucker could go down," Bush warned the negotiators Thursday, referring to the country's economy.

A desperate Paulson got down on one knee Thursday night to plead with House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, "Please don't blow this up" after Republicans balked after a preliminary deal had been announced.

Pelosi responded that it was the House Republicans who were the problem, which Paulson acknowledged.

But a night's sleep did not seem to bring the two sides any closer together.

Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, told "Good Morning America," "I don't have a lot of confidence in the plan."

"This plan is flawed," arguing that it was not a "comprehensive plan that will work."

"They're jumping from one situation to the other, one crisis to another, which is sad," Shelby said, referring to Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. "I think we can do better."

When reminded that the Republicans were bucking a Republican president, Shelby replied, "The president will be gone in four months. I wish him well, but we're going to be here, and this is a heck of debt to put on the American people."

Bailout Blame Game Plagues Washington

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told "GMA" in an interview with Chris Cuomo taped late Thursday that a deal will be concluded.

"It will happen because it has to happen," she said. "I would hope that we could come to agreement in the next 24 hours."

Pelosi added, however, "That's really up to the House Republicans."

House Republicans rebelled against a deal framework for Bush's $700 billion Wall Street bailout Thursday hours after it was announced by Democrats and Republicans.

That pact would have provided an oversight board, some protection for taxpayers, limited compensation for CEOs, and would have the $700 billion doled out in chunks with a possible cut off after $350 billion.

The talks moved to the White House at 4 p.m. with Bush, McCain and Obama and that's where the deal began to unravel. By 10 p.m., talks ceased for the day with no deal -- but plenty of finger pointing.

Democrats blamed McCain's abrupt decision to leave the campaign trail and inject himself in the talks as the big problem, made worse by Bush's invitation to invite Obama to join the negotiations.

"I think Sen. McCain's involvement is sort of a blip," Pelosi told "GMA." "He hasn't been involved in this." The White House meeting, she said, was "disruptive" and time consuming.

The Republicans charged that Obama torpedoed the talks by running the Democratic side of the negotiations, and as a result, "the meeting quickly devolved into a contentious shouting match."

At the heart of the dispute is a refusal by House Republicans to allocate $700 billion of taxpayers' money to bail out Wall Street fat cats.

"There's a lot of people in Congress, even as we speak this morning, who have deep reservations about the structure of the Paulson plan," Shelby told "GMA." He also cited a petition signed by more than 200 economists urging Congress to reject the bailout.

The House GOP has proposed a scaled down plan in which the federal government would insure the assets of troubled firms instead of buying those assets outright.

The House Republicans devised their own plan after deciding Paulson's wasn't going to be able to win enough votes to pass in Congress.

First Presidential Debate Between Obama, McCain in Doubt

"It was becoming very clear to us that this [administration-backed] bill was not going to pass in the House," said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "There was not support among Republicans, and even many Democrats were not going to vote for this bill."

The Republican split is putting pressure on McCain, partly because he initiated the involvement of the presidential candidates, ABC News' chief Washington correspondent told George Stephanopoulos "GMA."

ABC News' Jonathan Karl contributed to this report.

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