WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top Democrat and top Republican in the Senate on Tuesday promised swift action to pass a bipartisan financial rescue plan that the White House says is vital to protect all Americans as well as Wall Street.
A day after the House of Representatives narrowly rejected a $700 billion proposal, sending financial markets into a record tailspin, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called for an end to partisan bickering by members of their respective parties.
“The blame games needs to end and we need to move forward on doing what is right for our country,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, declared in a speech on the Senate floor.
“We will get the job done,” added McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. “We’ll get it done this week.”
There will be no votes in Congress on Tuesday because of a Jewish holiday. The Senate could take up legislation as early as Wednesday, however. The House is to return on Thursday.
Lawmakers held discussions with each other and the administration on Tuesday to explore options, including possible changes in the measure the House defeated.
They could revise the bill or bring it up for another House vote. The next vote on any rescue bill could occur in the Senate, where there has been more bipartisan support.
Rodell Mollineau, a Reid spokesman, declined to speculate on what Congress may do. “Democrats will look at all options to move forward on a rescue proposal that prevents a serious economic crisis, bring much-needed oversight and transparency and protects taxpayers,” he said.
Speaking in the Senate, Reid said he conferred with White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, who he said had just talked with President George W. Bush. “We’re working together to resolve this important issue,” Reid said.
Reid and McConnell appeared on the Senate floor together just hours after President George W. Bush at the White House made another plea for action.
Reporting by Donna Smith and Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Tom Hals