Congress ready for mother of all bailouts

WASHINGTON, September 20, 2008 (AFP) – US congressional leaders, stunned by the depth of the economic meltdown, considered Saturday quick legislative action on a White House-proposed huge financial sector bailout, but demanded help for US workers as well as reeling Wall Street firms.

A senior official in the administration of President George W. Bush said the details of its massive finance sector rescue plan worth hundreds of billions of dollars were sent to members of Congress late Friday.

The New York Times reported Saturday the rescue package, whose cost is estimated to reach 500 billion dollars, calls for buying assets only from US — but not foreign — financial institutions and hiring outside advisers who would work for the Treasury Department and oversea the plan.

News of the massive rescue plan, which Bush said would allow “the federal government’s purchase of illiquid assets such as troubled mortgages from banks and other financial institutions,” fueled a powerful market rebound.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd said lawmakers were shocked into uncharacteristic silence when they were briefed on the catastrophic potential of the meltdown by Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke on Thursday.

“There was dead silence in the room for five to 10 se