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Negotiators Sitting Down to Complete Bailout Deal

Updated: 12:01 p.m.

Members of the House and Senate committees charged with advancing a $700 billion financial sector bailout package plan to sit down in the coming hours to draft a final bipartisan bill that is on a fast track for completion.

“Not too many unresolved issues remain,” said a Democratic aide close to negotiations.

Members of the House Financial Services Committee and members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee have been meeting since 10 a.m. to craft the final proposal. From there it will go to Congressional leaders for review and approval.

Congressional leaders plan to head to the White House for a meeting at 4 p.m. with President Bush, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

As of Thursday morning, Democratic leadership aides were still unclear whether the House will be in session this weekend.

But Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, said Thursday the bailout bill is “basically complete” and that he is hoping for a Sunday vote.

“The votes are there” in both chambers, Kanjorksi said on CNBC.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was already planning for a weekend session to consider the continuing resolution that will fund the federal government.

The House passed the CR on Wednesday.

“Unless something happens, we’ll have to be in session on Saturday,” Reid said in his opening statement Thursday morning.

Reid anticipates that he will be forced to bring lawmakers back in for a weekend vote on Saturday if he is unable to reach an agreement with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on the way forward on the CR.

Reid agreed that Members involved in the discussions on the bailout plan are close to a deal.

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