Congress Awaits Bush Bailout Package

Posted September 19, 2008 at 2:10pm

House Democratic and GOP leaders are pledging to work together over the weekend on a legislative package targeting the faltering financial sector, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) leaving open the door to continue work beyond next week’s target adjournment date.

“Once Congress receives the Bush administration’s formal proposal, we will examine it expeditiously,” Pelosi said Friday.

“As I told the president this morning, we are committed to quick, bipartisan action while ensuring that we uphold key principles: insulating Main Street from Wall Street and keeping people in their homes by reducing mortgage foreclosures, restoring market confidence, and protecting American taxpayers from incurring hundreds billions of dollars of debt.”

Congress is hoping to act on the proposal next week. Pelosi said she is prepared to work beyond Sept. 26, the targeted adjournment date, to consider other “legislative solutions and conduct necessary investigations to address this historic crisis.”

While details of the package are in flux, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said it will include hundreds of billions of dollars because it must be big enough to “get at the heart of the problem.”

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Republicans were planning on spending Friday protesting Democratic energy policies but called off the plan to stay more “appropriately focused” on the state of the financial markets. Republicans took part in a Friday morning conference call with Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to ask questions about the forthcoming proposal.

Asked whether GOP Members support Paulson’s plan to sink hundreds of billions of dollars into a package aimed at assisting the financial sector, Blunt said Republicans “want to see the structure” of the proposal being put forward by administration officials.

“I think one of the concerns that our Members had that I shared was that there didn’t seem to be a coherent strategy toward dealing with this large problem,” Blunt said.