Congress races to reach bailout deal before Monday
Sat Sep 27, 2008 2:00pm Share
By Richard Cowan and Kevin Drawbaugh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress raced to strike a deal on a proposed $700 billion bailout of the financial industry in an intense weekend negotiating session aimed at alleviating the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Pressed to act before Asian markets open on Monday, negotiators vowed to lock themselves in a room until they reach an agreement on buying distressed debt from financial institutions staggering under the weight of failed mortgages.
Negotiators worked through the night and into Saturday after much of the country paused to watch Friday's first debate between the presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.
New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, chief negotiator for Senate Republicans, told reporters there would be a meeting with principal lawmakers later on Saturday.
"The basic understanding is when we get in that room as principals, we're going to stay there until we reach an agreement or can't reach an agreement -- which hopefully won't happen," Gregg said.
"We will stay until we've done something that addresses this issue in a very comprehensive and effective way."
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said "time is not our ally" and set a goal of holding a vote on a Monday.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid pushed a deadline for an agreement of 6 p.m. (2200 GMT) on Sunday "because that's when the Asian markets open." Continued...