WASHINGTON - Shortly after midnight Sunday morning on Capitol Hill, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson joined Congressional leaders to announce an apparent breakthrough on the President's $700 billion bailout plan.
"I think we're there," said Paulson. "And our staffs will be working all night. And again, so far so good."
Lawmakers said they agreed to a broad outline for the government to buy bad mortgage debt with taxpayer money to unclog credit markets but still have to sketch out the details. Some Congressional members were working against a self-imposed deadline, hoping to make an announcement before Asian and other world financial markets open.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "We've made great progress. "We have to get it committed to paper, so we that we can formally agree."
Minority Whip Roy Blount, the point man for the House Republicans, sounded slightly more cautious. "I think were going to be able to have an announcement tomorrow," Blount said. "But these are difficult issues and everybody showed lots of patience."
House Republicans had threatened to scuttle any deal that didn't shift more of the financial burden toward Wall Street and guarantee more returns for Main Street.
"Given the dimensions of the problem, I believe we've done a good job of trying to resolve it," said Democratic Representative Barney Frank of the Financial Services Committee. "It includes genuine compromises."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid summed up the negotiations: "This has been a long day, quite frankly a long week."