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December 10, 2008

United States agrees to bailout auto industry

CARS/POLITICS - The United States Congress and the White House, backed by President-elect Barack Obama, have apparently reached a deal to spend $15 billion US on emergency loans for struggling U.S. automakers. The measure could see a House of Representatives vote later today and be enacted by Friday.

It would create a government "car czar" to dole out the loans, with the power to force the automakers into bankruptcy if they didn't cut quick deals with labour unions, creditors and others to restructure their businesses and become viable. The Bush administration would work with President-elect Barack Obama's team on choosing the so-called "car czar," acknowledging that Bush's tenure ends in 41 days and the automakers' woes will continue well into 2009.

Congressional Republicans, left out of negotiations on the package, are seeking to block the action, not wanting to cooperate with the new White House agenda and disappointed outgoing President George W. Bush did not lobby Republicans to vote for the package.

Republican Senator David Vitter promised to filibuster the measure, which could delay a final vote for days. Democratic leaders say they are confident that the bill could advance that they set a procedural vote for the House floor later today.

The White House breakthrough came when Democrats agreed to scrap a section that would have forced the carmakers to drop lawsuits challenging tough emissions limits in California and other states, said congressional aides.

Environmentalists are livid that the measure draws the emergency loans from an existing loan program to help carmakers retool their factories to make greener cars.

Past Posts:
Ford, General Motors & Chrysler running out of time
US Treasury rejects GM/Chrysler Merger Aid

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