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Agreement Reached in U.S. Financial Bailout Bill

Posted September. 29, 2008 09:12,   


U.S. congressional leaders and the Bush administration have reached a tentative agreement on a financial bailout bill after marathon negotiations.

The move came Saturday in Washington amid the escalating fear that a delay or failure in the agreement could plunge both the U.S. and international financial markets into chaos.

The New York Times and other U.S. media said Congress and U.S. government leaders reached a conclusion by setting a deadline for the agreement before the opening of Asian financial markets Monday.

The tentative agreement was reached after much difficulty as Democratic lawmakers who gathered in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and Republicans encamped in Representative John A. Boehner’s office kept changing their revised or compromised versions of the bill.

A series of phone calls were exchanged to iron out differences. Pelosi negotiated with President George W. Bush over the phone; Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. with presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.

Congressional leaders also phoned investment guru Warren Buffett to seek his advice. The billionaire has expressed his support for the Treasury’s bailout plan in numerous interviews.

There was also a tense moment and shouting in the meeting. Democratic Senator Max Baucus shouted at Paulson while discussing caps on executives’ pay, according to several aides.

To prevent information from leaking out, the BlackBerrys of staff members were confiscated.

Congress and U.S. government officials did not announce the details of the agreement, saying they would work through the night to finalize the language of the bill. The main framework of the bill, however, will reportedly remain unchanged from the one agreed Thursday morning by congressional leaders.

The bill allows for 700 billion U.S. dollars to be granted in separate occasions without having to receive approval all at the same time; imposing caps on CEO salaries; and securing stocks by financial companies supported by the Treasury.

The opposing opinions of certain Republicans, which almost killed the negotiations, were also reportedly reflected in the rescue plan.

The Republicans suggested easing the taxpayer’s burden by making the government guarantee mortgage-backed securities rather than giving relief loans, something to which Paulson is opposed.