MR. SMITH: Well, working to get Republicans in Congress behind the $700 billion bailout plan is part of President Bush's task today. House Republicans had boycotted talks -- sort of -- on the bipartisan agreement, calling it simply unacceptable. In fact, some called it something related to socialism.
GOP leaders are now sending a top Republican representative, Roy Blunt, to take over their end of the negotiations. With us now, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, New York Congressman Peter King live with us from Washington.
Sir, good to see you. Thank you.
REP. KING: Good to see you, Shepard. Thank you.
MR. SMITH: Yesterday, as an outsider looking in looked kind of like a mess. I wonder where you sense we are today.
REP. KING: Shepard, I think we're a lot closer to getting something done. John Boehner has been talking directly with Speaker Pelosi. We now have our Whip, Roy Blunt, going into negotiations. Both sides realize that it is important that we do have a plan, that we do get it enacted, that we do it by this weekend.
So I think it's going in the right direction. I thought we were close for a while yesterday. But, listen, this is a -- this is a major endeavor we're undertaking here. So even though I have basically supported the concept of a plan from the start, I can understand why a lot of people in my party have misgivings about it and why we have to be very, very careful and why we have to inject more of the private sector into it. And, you know, my understanding is that the leadership is reasonably confident that we're at least going in the right direction. So I still feel pretty good it.
MR. SMITH: Congressman, conservative Republicans, some of them -- Richard Shelby among them, Bunning is another -- seem to believe that this is something akin to socialism. Is whatever bill that comes out of there going to be something that they will not feel that way about?
REP. KING: I certainly can't speak for Jim Bunning or Dick Shelby. I think that certainly John Boehner's intention is to have a bill come out which is more compatible with Republican principles. And also, Nancy Pelosi wants one that's still compatible with Democratic principles. So that's the -- you know, the trick to get that done.
But again, I think it'd be very difficult ever to get Jim Bunning or Dick Shelby onboard, you know, considering the -- you know, the ideas that they have, which I understand -- I don't fully agree, but I understand them. But I think we are -- there's a very good chance to make enough progress to bring a significant number of Republicans onboard, and hopefully keep Democrats onboard.
So it's -- again, this is a national crisis. I -- I accept that, I believe that. And we have to do all we can to try to get it done.
MR. SMITH: Two things in the short time we have remaining. Is it possible to get this done before the overseas markets open on Monday? And second, is it possible to do this with less than $700 billion in the beginning?
REP. KING: Well, the -- first of all, on the issue of the 700 billion (dollars), I -- right now, you know, there's the concept of doing it in traunches, where you would maybe start with 250 (billion dollars) or 300 (billion dollars) and then increase it incrementally after that. But, again, that's part of the negotiations that have been going on. And as far as getting it done before the Asia markets open, that is certainly the intention to -- if it is going to be done, to get it done and finished before Sunday evening.
MR. SMITH: Congressman Peter King of New York, great to see you, sir. Good luck up there.
REP. KING: Thank you, Shepard.