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WASHINGTON -- As the nation continues to react to the sticker shock of the $700 billion bailout plan issued last week, President George W. Bush fielded bipartisan grief Friday from legislators on Capitol Hill hemming and hawing over the proper cause of action.
Outside the Oval Office, amid backlash and confusion, Bush conceded this is a difficult time and lawmakers are entitled to question the policy. However, he insisted they must "rise too the occasion" to avoid a economic national tragedy that would dwarf existing conditions, perhaps best underscored by the sudden demise yesterday of Washington Mutual, the largest bank to fail in U.S. history.
"There are disagreements over aspects of the rescue plan," Bush told Reuters, "but there is no disagreement that something substantial must be done. We are going to get a package passed."
As the Dow Jones Industrial average fell more than 100 points Friday, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) declared an agreement depends on House Republicans "dropping this revolt" against the Bush-requested plan.
Lawmakers question whether presidential hopefuls Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama’s participation has helped or hindered the process.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor that Bush should "respectfully tell Sen. McCain to get out of town. He is not helping, he is harming. Before Sen. McCain made his announcement, we were making progress."
As the end of the bailout debate was uncertain Friday, oil prices were impacted by the pending outcome. The Associated Press reported light, sweet crude for November delivery fell $2.47 to $105.55 in early trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after earlier dipping as low as $104.25. The drop wiped out the previous day’s advance of $2.29 to $108.02.
Investors are worried after negotiations among congressional leaders broke down late Thursday. "The bailout is a real focus of the market because it’s seen as being quite important to the direction of the economy," David Moore, a commodity strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney, told the AP.
Oil companies located in the recently ravished Gulf are slowly ramping up. Approximately 63 percent of crude output and 57 percent of natural gas production was still shut-in as of Wednesday, according to the U.S. Minerals Management Service.