Bernanke warned skeptical senators that the economy would plunge into recession without quick action.
While members of Congress have agreed in principle on aspects of the administration's proposal, many Democrats and some Republicans, like McCain, have insisted the plan deny "golden parachutes" to executives at failing financial firms.
Neither McCain nor his Democratic rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, have left the campaign trail to return to Washington to address the crisis.
"In any solution, we must see accountability, we must see transparency, and we must make sure taxpayers' dollars don't line the pockets of executives," he said.
McCain spoke briefly after touring Nova Machine Products, which supplies parts to nuclear power plants around the country. He called again for the construction of 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030, both to ease U.S. dependence on foreign oil and to create jobs in the energy sector.
He also visited campaign volunteers at Baldwin-Wallace College where he lowered expectations for his own performance in his first campaign debate with Obama in Mississippi on Friday.
"Have no doubt about the capabilities of Sen. Obama to a debate. He's very, very good," McCain said. "He was able to defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton, who, as we all know, is very accomplished. He was able to, with his eloquence, inspire a great number of Americans. These will be tough debates."
Earlier, McCain accepted the endorsement of a local chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers, where he ignored shouted questions from reporters about the bailout proposal. McCain has not held a formal press conference since Aug. 13, but aides said he planned to take some questions from reporters before a campaign stop in Michigan later Tuesday.