As Congressional committees studied a $700-billion US financial bailout plan Sunday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson appeared on the television talk show circuit to stress the need for speed in passing the legislation.
"The credit markets are still very fragile right now and frozen," Paulson said in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press. "We need to deal with this and deal with it quickly."
"It pains me tremendously to have the American taxpayer put in this position but it is better than the alternative," Paulson said.
On ABC television's This Week with George Stephanopolous, the treasury secretary said foreign banks operating in the U.S. will also be able to unload failed mortgage assets under the bailout package.
President George W. Bush said on Saturday that the White House is ready to work with Congress to quickly enact legislation to allow his government to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars worth of bad debt linked to the collapse of the U.S. housing market.
The Bush administration spent the weekend negotiating the details of the proposal with members of Congress with the expectation that it can be passed in the coming week.
Key Democrats have said the legislation sent to them on Saturday needs changes to provide better protections for taxpayers and homeowners in danger of losing their homes.
Democrats said they understood the need for urgency but are suggesting the legislation also include changes in bankruptcy laws to allow for mortgages to be modified, and caps on pay and benefit packages for executives at the huge Wall Street firms that will be selling their bad debt to the government.
"I don't want the American taxpayer to get this bad debt and then the guy [whose company once held the bad loans] gets millions of dollars on his way out the door," said House financial services chairman Barney Frank, a Democrat Congressman from Massachusetts.