WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders reported slow but significant progress on crafting a bipartisan financial rescue plan Saturday— but also indicated they remained divided on key issues.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said they hoped for an announcement of a deal later Sunday ,before world markets open for the week.
"The goal is to try to come up with a final agreement by tomorrow," Reid said. "Now we may not be able to do that, but we're working very hard."
They got a new push from President Bush, who said in his weekly radio address he understood the problems people faced.
"You make sacrifices every day to meet your mortgage payments and keep up with your bills. When the government asks you to pay for mistakes on Wall Street, it does not seem fair," Bush said.
"And if it were possible to let every irresponsible firm on Wall Street fail without affecting you and your family, I would do it. But that is not possible."
Key issues were still unresolved Saturday, as staffs from key committees continued meeting.
One was the size of the package. Now $700 billion, many lawmakers want it either reduced or at least changed so it's not all available at once. While congressional negotiators have seemed willing to delay some of the money, questions remained about how it could be authorized.
The negotiators had proposed allowing $250 billion to be spent immediately, another $100 to be available if the Treasury Secretary certified a need, and the rest to be spent unless Congress disapproved. But some lawmakers want the last $350 available only if Congress specifically approves it.
Also still uncertain was the fate of a House Republican plan to have the government insure troubled securities instead of purchasing them.
But many have said they do not understand the concept, and supporters have had trouble themselves explaining its details.