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Top Negotiators Back at the Table

Face-to-face negotiations resumed late Saturday afternoon between key House and Senate lawmakers on the $700 billion financial rescue package, with House Republicans saying many issues remained to be ironed out. “There are a lot of issues still on the table,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said at a press conference before negotiations were set to begin. “It’s important that Congress act, and that Congress act as quickly as possible.” Boehner said Republicans agreed on the need for legislation to avert a financial crisis but said the goal of Republicans was to protect taxpayers. “We should not be bailing out Wall Street at the expense of American taxpayers,” he said. The lead House Republican negotiator, Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.), said, “We’re not moving on any kind of artificial timeline, we’re moving toward the very best solution in the shortest period of time.” Blunt said among the items that Republicans want to keep out of the bill is a provision allowing bankruptcy judges to adjust mortgage terms and a provision directing a portion of future profits to affordable housing. Blunt had earlier said in television interviews that he would like to see a deal by Sunday, because otherwise it would likely be delayed until Thursday or Friday of next week. But House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) sent out a statement Saturday afternoon warning that a “hasty” bailout deal will lead to a GOP “political dead pool in November.” “With some Republican leaders of Congress imposing an arbitrary deadline of Sunday at midnight on negotiations, the results could prove disastrous for all Americans,” McCotter said. “First, by irresponsibly raising investors’ expectations of an agreement, the failure of Congress to reach a deal by such a deadline could spark the very economic meltdown we are trying to stop. Secondly, the irresponsible desire to meet a deadline solely for the sake of meeting a deadline will produce an ‘agreement’ that does NOT protect taxpayers from this bailout. Thus, the public will be outraged a month before the election; principled House Republicans will view any internal whip count as a political dead pool; and the irresponsible, anti-taxpayer ‘agreement’ will fail. This avoidable outcome, too, could lead to a catastrophic economic meltdown.”

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