Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Auto Bailout Clears the House

A $14 billion dollar automaker bailout/rescue bill (pdf) passed the house on Wednesday with support from key Democrats but now faces strong opposition from Republicans in the Senate. Congressman Rick Larson voted for the measure.

Defiant Republicans refused to support the bill without hefty concessions from autoworkers and creditors, and are furious about an environmental mandate House Democrats insisted on including in the measure.

The plan would provide money within days to cash-starved General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC. While Ford Motor Co., which has said it has enough liquidity to stay afloat — would be eligible for federal aid as well.

Key points of Bailout Legislation:

$14 billion in low-interest loans made available to General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Co. GM and Chrysler are expected to apply for loans. Ford says it will not.

Restructuring plans:
Companies receiving taxpayer assistance must develop plans by March 31, 2009 to restructure their businesses into viable enterprises. Failure to do so would require repayment of the loans within 30 days.

Create an Office of Car "czar:"
President Bush will name a so-called car czar to facilitate negotiations among stakeholders such as the companies, the United Auto Workers Union, creditors, retirees, suppliers and automobile dealers to develop long-term plan for viability.

Taxpayer protections:
Taxpayers would be first in line to be paid back — ahead of other creditors.
The United States government would have the right to purchase non-voting shares in the companies.

The bill creates the office of “car czar,” to be named by President George W. Bush to dole out the loans, with the power to force the car makers into bankruptcy next spring if they didn’t cut quick deals with labor unions, creditors and others to restructure their businesses and become viable.

“To give up on the auto industry now would be to condemn the American economy at one of its most vulnerable periods in our economic history to a degree of further hurt,” said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, the Financial Services Committee chairman.

Opposition from Republicans reflected the tricky task of enacting yet another federal rescue in a bailout-weary Congress, with Bush’s influence on the wane.

“People realize that this bill is an incredibly weak bill, (and) is the product of an administration that wants to kick the can down the road and let somebody else deal with it,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

The only other major item that could keep members through the week is if the President and his team request additional funds from the $700 billion economic rescue program which may need Congressional approval."

Source: AP News - click title of post for additional information.

CSPAN Junkie video coverage of floor activity:

More information about this bill can can eventually be found at:

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