CBSN

'Fundamental Agreement' Reached On Bailout

Top congressional negotiators have announced that they have a "fundamental agreement" on a government bailout of the nation's financial system, granting extraordinary powers to the secretary of Treasury to purchase hundreds of billions in bad debt while attempting to stem foreclosures for homeowners struggling on Main Street.

The announcement came in the Capitol after a three-hour meeting involving a dozen of the top negotiators from both parties and both chambers of Congress.

Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said, "We believe we are prepared to act expeditiously on a package ... and send a message to the markets."

But Dodd cautioned that this is still a "set of principles" and not completed legislative language. Quite often, the nitty-gritty details of bill language can slow the process. Still, Dodd and other key negotiators seemed more confident Thursday afternoon than they have at any other point in the week long bailout negotiations.

The bill could reach the president's desk in a few days, Dodd said.

House Republicans continue to warn that they haven't signed off on this deal, but the bailout ship may sail without them given the pace of legislative activity today.

Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), the top GOP negotiator in the Senate, said, "We have a plan that will pass the House, pass the Senate and be signed by the president, and bring certainty to the markets."

Dodd said the agreement includes a crackdown on executive compensation, but it does not appear to have a bankruptcy provision, coveted by liberal Democrats, which would allow judges to restructure mortgages for people facing foreclosure.