Deal Not Yet Sealed; Schedule Uncertain

Posted September 25, 2008 at 4:58pm

Updated: 6:15 p.m.

A White House meeting between President Bush, Congressional leaders from both parties and presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) ended Thursday afternoon without a deal on a bailout package for Wall Street, officials said.

Emerging from the session, spokesmen for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said lawmakers and the administration are continuing to work toward an agreement.

Speaking to Roll Call after the session, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the meeting, which he was part of, was not a negotiating session, but instead a “laying out of positions” by the parties present.

Speaking to CNN at the White House, presidential counselor Ed Gillespie acknowledged that there was no deal and indicated several issues were still in play. “We’re moving closer,” he said.

House leaders were still unclear Thursday evening as to how long Congress will need to stay in session to pass the $700 billion bailout bill.

“We’re prepared to stay here Saturday, Sunday, next week and thereafter or as long as necessary. We have no arbitrary deadline as to when we’re going home,” Hoyer said on CNN after the meeting.

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) speculated that the House would come in Friday to finish debate on tax extenders legislation, economic stimulus legislation and any remaining bills on suspension.

Beyond that, Blunt guessed that the House would meet on Saturday and possibly finish its work by the end of that day, but said Members may need to come in Sunday too. He clarified that he would know more about scheduling plans later Thursday.

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) clearly indicated after the White House meeting that he is not on board with any compromise. He said there was no agreement and that he had presented during the session a five-page list of economists opposed to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s strategy.