Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, speaking to reporters outside the White House, urged immediate reconsideration by the House, stressing emphatically that the stakes were dire. Paulson said he is conferring with House leaders.

"We need to get something done as soon as possible," Paulson said. "We need to put something back together that works... We believe our plan and the plan we developed with congressional leaders is a plan that works. We need it as soon as possible. We're committed to working with congressional leaders to get it done."

Paulson said he had no qualms about the effectiveness of the plan that had been forged, and that he doubted another was necessary.

"We had a plan that we worked very hard on, that did the job, gave us the tools we needed to protect the financial markets, to protect the American people," he said. "Where we go from here is something we're going to be working on with congressional leaders."

When asked if the U.S. banking system could handle continuing uncertainty, Paulson indicated he thought so.

"Our banking system has been holding up very well, considering all of the pressures," he said. "There's been a lot of work that's been done, and you've seen us now for a period of months and weeks taking strong actions and actions that are essential in order to protect the banking system and the economy. As I've said, we have significant tools in our tool kit, but they're not sufficient. So we'll continue to work with what we have until we get from Congress what we need."

-J. Taylor Rushing