Reid Says Negotiations Continue

Posted September 25, 2008 at 8:22pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that Thursday was full of political theatrics but vowed to move ahead on legislation to bring confidence back into the markets. “We will begin at 8 o’clock tonight to see if we can put the train back on its track,” Reid said. Reid said the path toward a deal hit several obstacles throughout the day, with the arrival of GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) but also with the rumor that there was an alternative plan in the works. He pledged that lawmakers involved in the process would not be distracted and would meet again tonight to work toward an agreement. Earlier in the day, leaders from both chambers and parties agreed to principles behind the bill, but House Republicans refused to sign on. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent out a press release during the negotiations saying that the agreement did not have his blessing. Reid said that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has been reaching out to House Republicans to address some of the concerns. “If we get the support of the House Republicans, this could be done in a matter of days,” Reid said. House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said House Republicans surprised Paulson by releasing a competing plan centered on a new mortgage insurance system. “I don’t know what House Republicans are planning to do or how … and that’s the dilemma,” Frank said at a Thursday night press conference. Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and other Members will meet tonight to hash out further details of the bailout plan. Frank criticized McCain’s late entrance into the debate as a political ploy by a struggling candidate, adding the Republican presidential nominee offered nothing substantive during an afternoon session at the White House. “He kind of rambled on and said everybody’s got a right to their own opinions on this,” Frank said. Frank and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) agreed that any final package will need to gather the support of House Republicans to help instill public confidence in the plan and calm the financial markets. But they did not name a threshold level of support from House GOPers that they are seeking. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nevertheless said negotiators are nearing an agreement and said she is confident they will gather bipartisan support for a deal.