NEW YORK — Republican presidential candidate John McCain expressed confidence Thursday that Congress and the Bush administration can reach consensus before markets open Monday on a $700 billion bailout plan to rescue financial institutions from crippling debt.
His Democratic rival, Barack Obama, also called for prompt bipartisan action.
Hours later, congressional lawmakers said they had reached an agreement in principle and would present it to the Bush administration.
McCain told the Clinton Global Initiative in New York that it's often difficult to act quickly and wisely. But he said that is what's required now to come up with a plan that can achieve bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
"Time is short and doing nothing is not an option," McCain said. He headed to Washington after his speech.
Obama, speaking to the same audience by satellite later in the morning, agreed that it was imperative to act now in a bipartisan manner.
"Now is the time to come together, Democrats and Republicans, in the spirit of cooperation on behalf of the American people," he said.
But Obama made clear that his schedule this week included the first presidential debate. He said he would be in Mississippi on Friday for the debate with McCain after joining legislators in Washington on Thursday. McCain has called for postponing the debate, set to be on foreign policy issues, if no deal has been reached on the bailout by then.
Both presidential candidates received high praise from former President Bill Clinton.
Clinton praised McCain on the environment: "When most people in his party had been thinking that global warming was overstated ... he decided to look into it."
In lauding Obama, Clinton referred to a conversation the two men had earlier this month at Clinton's Harlem office.
"Eighty percent of the conversation had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the responsibilities of the next president for the welfare of the American people and the future of the world," Clinton said.
The candidates were equally gracious to Clinton, thanking him for his work with the initiative.
In his remarks, Obama said that as president he would strive to end all malaria deaths around the world by the year 2015. Today, the disease kills nearly 1 million people a year, most of them children in Africa.
"In Africa, a child dies from a mosquito bite every 30 seconds," he said. "It's time to rid the world of death from a disease that doesn't have to take lives."
Obama promised to help the developing world to produce more of the 730 million bednets needed to protect people from mosquitoes as they sleep. He also pledged aid in training doctors and nurses and making anti-malaria drugs affordable. He didn't address the cost but said it would not fall on the United States alone.
"This effort must bring together governments from around the world. It must be a public-private partnership that draws on the resources and ideas and resilience of business and non-profits and faith groups," he said.