Senate GOP Aims for Bailout Agreement This Weekend

Senate Republican leaders delivered a balanced, noontime update on progress towards a Wall Street bailout bill, saying they are optimistic an agreement will be reached later today but also warning of dire consequences with Monday's stock market opening if an agreement falls through.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and ranking Budget Committee member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said that a Saturday afternoon meeting is planned for the principal negotiators, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), along with Bush administration officials from the Treasury Department.

"We expect to have an agreement," Gregg said. "The basic understanding is that when we get in that room as principals, we're going to stay there until we reach an agreement. If we can't reach an agreement, which hopefully won't happen and I don't expect that to happen, we will stay until we've done something to address this issue in a very comprehensive way.... We've agreed to stay until we get this done."

Gregg said if an agreement is not reached by the end of the weekend, "by Monday or Tuesday, Main Street America will be under dire stress."

McConnell added, "The goal would be to announce an agreement tomorrow and have a vote on Monday."

A Monday vote could possibly be the last action by the 110th Congress before the November elections, although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) late Friday said he also wants votes on a train safety bill, a Defense Department policy measure and a U.S.-India nuclear agreement.

-J. Taylor Rushing

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