Economic bailout close to deal; Leaders meet at White House today

By: Joel Brown, CBS News
By: Joel Brown, CBS News

White House, (CBS) - Lawmakers are close to a deal on the $700 billion government bailout bill. Party leaders met this morning to hammer out a new draft of the proposal.

It will allow the government to buy sour assets, like bad mortgages, from financial institutions that are on shaky ground. The Bush administration hopes the bailout will help those companies, and get them to resume lending money.

Lawmakers have found common ground on some key points, like limiting the salaries of executives whose companies will benefit from the bill.

Later today, President Bush will meet with party leaders and the two candidates for President. One of whom will inherit the economic crisis in less than four months.

Republican nominee John McCain suspended his campaign and asked Democrat Barack Obama to agree to postpone Friday's debate.

(SOT: JOHN MCCAIN / R - PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE) - "The debate that matters most right now is taking place in the US Capitol, and I intend to join it," Senator McCain said on Wednesday.

Obama wants the debate to go on, saying it's more important than ever for voters to hear from the candidates.

Some lawmakers call today's White House meeting a distraction from the talks happening across town. Key members of Congress know they must act fast or things could get worse.

"I think members understand the gravity of this. There'll be no parades after this. This is a sad and tragic moment for our country," says Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT)

Lawmakers are still working out whether or not to allow the government to spend all the money at once, and if it should take part ownership of the companies it bails out.

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