The top Republican negotiator in the House told reporters Saturday afternoon that Congress will not move on "any kind of artificial timeline" to finalize an economic rescue package before the markets open Monday morning.
"Somebody, maybe it was Einstein, said things should be done as quickly as possible but no quicker than possible," Republican Whip Roy Blunt told reporters Saturday afternoon before heading into a negotiating session with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.
"We're not moving on any kind of artificial timeline," Blunt said. "We're moving toward the very best solution in the shortest period of time."
During an earlier press conference, Gregg suggested negotiators could reach a deal by Sunday night.
Shortly afterward, Blunt's colleague in the leadership, Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, issued a statement complaining that congressional negotiators would send the wrong message to the markets and to voters if they rush legislation through Congress just to mollify Wall Street by Monday.
In a bit of posturing before the negotiations, Blunt and other House Republicans called on Democrats to remove proposals that would give bankruptcy judges more authority to re-work mortgages and limit the portion of potential revenue generated by this debt-buying program that goes to a recently established affordable housing trust fund. Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, a lead author of the GOP alternative, also complained about language in the proposal that Republicans believe would benefit labor unions.
Cantor and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who helped him craft an alternative based on insuring mortgage-backed securities rather than buying them, have been tasked to keep information flowing to Blunt during the negotiations about what Republicans will and will not support while other members feed them information.