The expectation is that a historic deal is being made right now, inside the gilded Foreign Relations hearing room below the Senate chamber.
A larger than usual contingent of 75 reporters, eight TV cameras, a dozen print photographers are crammed into a stuffy hallway waiting for Chairmen Dodd and Frank to emerge, along with their Republican counterparts, to announce the framework of a deal.
According to Hill aides, the language is all but written, with concessions being made on both sides. Democrats are likely to lose their push to include bankruptcy provisions, while Republicans have relented on CEO pay. The bill may also only allow the $700 billion to be spent in large chunks rather than all at once.
The markets have already factored in a deal: the Dow is up 200.
The top congressional principles have essentially done the heavy lifting this morning, and the White House meeting later today has already been downplayed by Chuck Schumer as "photo op."
If things go according to plan, Bush will have this bill on his desk by Saturday night.