While the White House says lawmakers are making progress on a proposed $700bn plan to aid failing firms, and George W.Bush (photo, from nouvelobs.com) is pushing for a quick agreement, he is preparing to meet John McCain and Barack Obama, the two presidential candidates.
The US president has said the whole economy of the country is in peril and urged Congress to act.
Over the crisis, the Republican candidate has suspended his campaign, while his rival says voters should hear from the candidates.
At 1600 local time (2000 GMT), the two men are scheduled to attend a meeting with the president and congressional leaders.
On Thursday morning, during a series of meetings, reports from Washington suggested both Republican and Democratic members of Congress were closing in on a deal that would be acceptable to all sides.
The New York Times reported that the two parties were hoping for a bipartisan consensus to emerge in time so that in the afternoon, the candidates and president could rubber-stamp a deal at the White House.
On the news of a possible agreement, shares rose on Wall Street.
On Thursday, key figures on each side suggested that compromise was being reached on a number of contentious issues, including the issue of limiting the pay of executives whose companies are given government help.
The proposal is proven unpopular with voters, say lawmakers, as many voters are concerned about the use of public funds to fix problems caused by bad corporate practice on Wall Street.
Late on Wednesday, the two presidential candidates described, in a joint statement, the Bush administration’s planned bail-out plan as “flawed”, but said efforts to protect the economy must not fail.
“This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe”, they said.
In the same time, the two rivals have disagreed on delaying a TV debate over the economic turmoil.
Saying he feared the rescue package would not pass “as it currently stands”, Mr McCain said he was suspending his campaign to return to Washington, in order to help agree a deal.
He also called for his first presidential debate with Mr Obama on Friday to be suspended, which has been refused by his rival.
The Democratic candidate told journalists that Americans needed to “hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess”.
On Thursday, in a speech to the Clinton Global initiative, a conference headed by former Democratic president Bill Clinton, Mr McCain stressed his desire to help Congress agree a viable deal.
The Republican candidate said that no Wall Street executives should profit from the injection of public cash, and insisted on clear oversight of any plan.
Without making any mention of Friday’s planned presidential debate, he praised Mr Obama’s decision to join him in Washington to broker a deal.
“Poor decisions made in haste can turn a crisis into a far-reaching disaster”, he said.
On Wednesday evening, president Bush made his grave pronouncement on the crisis during a televised address to the nation on the economy.
He said that without action a “distressing scenario” would unfold, with major sectors of America’s financial system at risk of shutting down.
His administration is calling on Congress to approve the proposed bail-out, under which the Treasury would use public money to buy bad debt from troubled financial institutions, as soon as possible.
And in the future, the fund would aim to sell off these mortgage-related debts, when their value might have risen, said the Treasury.
Lawmakers want assurances that it will benefit home-owners as well as Wall Street, and be subject to adequate oversight.
President Bush said he understood the frustration of “responsible Americans” who “are reluctant to pay the costs of excesses on Wall Street”.
But calling for a bipartisan commission to oversee the plan, he said : “Given the situation we’re facing, not passing a bill now will cost these Americans much more later.”