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Kwame Holman Reports on Financial Woes Preceding Debates

Lawmakers have not been able to agree on a plan with the White House, nor with each other, choosing not to enact a bill for the near future. NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman discusses the dealings on Capitol Hill.

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    Minutes after the opening bell rang on Wall Street, President Bush said a deal is not out of reach.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: There are disagreements over aspects of the rescue plan, but there is no disagreement that something substantial must be done. We are going to get a package passed; we will rise to the occasion.


    Since the administration offered its idea a week ago, members of Congress have demanded better taxpayer protections, rules on executive compensation, and greater oversight of the purchase of up to $700 billion of bad mortgage debt from financial firms in trouble.

    Yesterday afternoon, a bipartisan working group said it had the principles of a deal in hand.

    SEN. ROBERT BENNETT (R), Utah: I now expect we will, indeed, have a plan that can pass the House, pass the Senate, be signed by the president.


    But that began to unravel quickly. And by the time President Bush hosted a White House meeting of Hill leaders and the two major presidential candidates, a deal seemed to be slipping away.

    The candidates came at the president's request, after John McCain suddenly announced he would suspend his campaign to help broker a deal and would help persuade Republicans.

    But at the meeting, House Republican Leader John Boehner said he wanted negotiators to look at provisions suggested by some of his more conservative members. According to news accounts, that ignited acrimony inside the White House gathering that endured afterwards.

    REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), Massachusetts: At this point, I honestly don't know what the House Republicans are planning to do or how.


    This morning, Boehner said his members' suggestions should have come as no surprise, and refused to take the blame.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), House Minority Leader: I've been in conversations with the administration and the speaker of the House all week. There was nothing that was put on the table yesterday that Speaker Pelosi didn't already know about, nor the Treasury secretary or the president.

    Those conversations have been going on at that level. And I don't know what games were being played at the White House yesterday, a gang-up on Boehner, but if they thought they were rolling me, they were kidding themselves.

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