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Wall Street Plan Finds Support

Focus Turns to House GOP

A joint call from presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) for a financial rescue package Wednesday isolated House rank-and-file Republicans who have yet to sign on and are critical to its passage.

Senators on both sides coalesced around a proposal late Wednesday that Members predicted would pass before Wall Street’s opening bell on Monday.

“There’s high anxiety about the opening of the markets on Monday,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said. “It’s good to have a deadline.”

McCain’s qualified support, in particular, was greeted with relief by some Senate Republicans who said they hoped his statements, along with President Bush’s speech Wednesday night, would help persuade reluctant House Republicans to support a bailout. Many saw McCain’s support as essential.

“I was fearful that we wouldn’t get it done,” Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) said. “But now I think we will.”

The two presidential nominees planned a joint statement that was to lay out their shared principles. McCain also said he would suspend his campaigning to help forge a deal. His proposal to cancel Friday’s presidential debate was rebuffed by Obama.

Durbin said the joint announcement was “a step in the right direction to try to depoliticize this process.” Durbin said he was concerned about House Republican opposition, noting that a GOP Member told him earlier Wednesday that “there’s no support for this except at the [Republican] leadership level in the House.”

Before Obama and McCain acted, Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) said the pair would be critical to getting a bill done.

“After eight years, this administration doesn’t have the credibility to convince Main Street that this isn’t just a Wall Street problem,” Wamp said. “But Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama both do, but not separately. If Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama could stand together for two minutes” and get behind a bill, it would help alleviate “worries that it becomes a political football.”

Wamp said Members were coming around to the idea of passing a bill.

“I don’t think we can leave here doing nothing,” Wamp said.

House Democrats warned they wouldn’t go forward without significant Republican support.

“We need Republican votes,” said Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (N.Y.). “We’re not pulling their chestnuts out of the fire. This is their mess; they need to provide most of the votes. We’re willing to help.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) put out a statement saying they had made progress working together on the bill.

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the Financial Services Committee, called McCain and Obama’s support important.

“It’s very helpful that they’ve taken this out of politics,” Bachus said. “If there was ever a time for us to be statesmen, it’s now. It’s kind of like a war.”

Emerging taxpayer protections and oversight measures in the bill were helping to ease Republican anxiety, including provisions for the government getting equity options from companies, requirements for a transparent auction process to buy assets and restrictions on salaries of executives whose firms benefit.

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