US In Agreement

25 09 2008

A leading US senator says both parties in Congress are in agreement on the outline of a $700bn (£380bn) bail-out plan to revive the finance sector.

Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee said they had reached “fundamental agreement” on the principles of a deal.

But he later added that it could take beyond Friday’s target to finish work.

US President George W Bush is meeting presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama to discuss the bail-out.

Republicans and Democrats have been worried about who will fund the plan.

Mr Bush has said he hoped there would be agreement on a rescue deal “very shortly”.

However US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid told journalists discussions were “ongoing”.

Mr Dodd said Congress could act in the next few days to pass a bill on the subject.

“We look forward to reviewing the proposal. Our focus remains the same – ensuring that the final package is effective,” said Treasury spokeswoman Jennifer Zuccarelli.

After Mr Dodd’s comments Tony Fratto, the White House deputy press secretary, said it was a “a good sign that progress is being made”.

The plan, as it was first proposed last week, would broadly help finance firms offload bad debt, which has triggered a global credit crisis.

“We now expect that we will have a plan that can pass the House, pass the Senate and be signed by the president,” Republican Senator Robert Bennett of Utah said after meetings with lawmakers on Thursday.

Details of the package were not immediately available but it is tipped to include restrictions on executives’ pay as well as oversight requirements.

The benchmark Dow Jones index rose after Senator Dodd’s comments, to close 198.09 points, or 1.83%, up at 11,023.26.

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are in Washington for the talks.

The pair are due to hold a presidential campaign debate on Friday, but Mr McCain had said it should be called off because of the pressing financial crisis.

However, on Thursday evening Mr McCain’s campaign team said the Republican senator had not yet decided whether to attend the debate.


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