Dems OK GOP Insurance Plan As Option, Schumer Says

Sen. Charles Schumer, speaking on CNBC just now, said Democrats are about to offer the House GOP a plan that includes conservatives' idea of creating a new federal insurance fund for mortgage-backed assets.

The catch: it would give Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson the option of including some form of mortgage insurance in his plan — but not require him to do so.

"We're at a bit of an impasse," said Schumer, a Banking Committee member who has been at the center of negotiations.

"If this will bring House Republicans to the table, we're willing to do it," he said, adding, "We don't believe it will work."

The offer is less generous than it seems on the surface. If accepted, it would punt the fight over insurance to Paulson and President Bush.

Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, speaking on CNN, said a final plan "could come as early as late in the weekend or early next week."

"I'm heartened by the fact that the House Republicans have sent a serious negotiator in Roy Blunt," he added.

UPDATE: Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, speaking to a few reporters right outside the House chamber, just said that "adding insurance as an option has never been a question." So Frank doesn't seem to think that some form of government-backed mortgage insurance is a bad idea, even if the details remain sketchy.

Martin Kady II contributed to this item.