Don't pop the champagne yet, if you're a Wall Street gazillionaire waiting for Congress to send Hank Paulson and $700 billion to the rescue.
Leaders on Capitol Hill say they've got agreement on a bailout plan that can pass Congress, which they're planning to present to the Bush administration this afternoon at the White House. Utah Sen. Robert Bennett, a Republican, told reporters on the Hill he thinks the plan can pass both chambers, and Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank agreed. But so far, House Republicans are still not on board with the proposal, which hasn't been described in great detail publicly yet.
House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio was meeting with John McCain this afternoon to try to salvage the bailout plan (or the "rescue package," as the GOP is now calling it). But Boehner put out a statement earlier saying he hadn't agreed to anything yet. A senior House Republican aide, asked if the negotiations (and the meetings with McCain) had made it likelier for balking GOP lawmakers to get on board, replied flatly, "No."
Conceivably, this whole thing could be a setup; McCain could swoop into the meeting with Barack Obama, President Bush and congressional leaders this afternoon, and declare that he had brought the House Republicans on board. But given the level of anxiety about the plan on the Hill, it doesn't seem like a ploy. And it's also not clear how much credit McCain could claim for bipartisan leadership if his major contribution to the process is pushing his own party to go along with the White House. We'll know more soon.