Bush pleads anew for Congress to act on bailout

September 26, 2008 7:02:35 AM PDT
President Bush scrambled Friday to bring rebellious members of his own party behind a multibillion-dollar government bailout of the financial system amid bitter political recriminations from both Democrats and Republicans over collapsed negotiations.

Bush delivered a terse statement from outside the Oval Office of the White House, acknowledging that lawmakers have a right to express their doubts and work through disagreements, but declaring they must "rise to the occassion" and approve a plan to avert an economic meltdown.

"There are disagreements over aspects of the rescue plan," he said, "but there is no disagreement that something substantial must be done. We are going to get a package passed."

Earlier Friday, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank declared that an agreement depends on House Republicans "dropping this revolt" againt the Bush-requested plan.

The Massachusetts Democrat said leading Democrats on Capitol Hill were shocked by the level of divisiveness that surfaced at Thursday's extraordinary White House meeting, leaving six days of intensive efforts to agree on a bailout plan in tatters only hours after key congressional players of both parties had declared they were in accord on the outlines of a $700 billion bill.

Bush decided to speak, and also was in constant contact with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who was returning to talks with lawmakers, White House press secretary Dana Perino said. Vice President Dick Cheney canceled planned travel Friday to New Mexico and Wyoming to remain in Washington and jawbone lawmakers.

And the campaign season's first face-to-face debate between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, scheduled for Friday night, was still in doubt.


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