US Congress Nears Vote on Auto Bailout

WASHINGTON,(RushPRnews)12/10/08-U.S. lawmakers are nearing a vote on a $15 billion rescue plan for the struggling auto industry, though Democrats and Republicans continue to wrangle over unresolved issues.

The House of Representatives could vote on the bill as early Wednesday. If it passes, the measure will face tough opposition from Republicans in the Senate, who say the plan does not do enough to ensure that the carmakers reform their businesses.

The White House says it is close to a final deal with congressional leaders on the bill, which would authorize General Motors and Chrysler to receive loans from the government. Ford Motor Company would not immediately receive a loan, but would eventually have access to government credit.

A White House official (Deputy Chief of Staff Joel Kaplan) said the companies will have to prove they can become profitable in the future. A government official appointed by the president (referred to as the “car czar”) would determine whether the companies have achieved long-term viability. If not, that designee will have the power to revoke the loans and force the companies into bankruptcy.

Another obstacle is a provision supported by Democrats that would force the automakers to drop lawsuits challenging greenhouse gas emissions limits in some U.S. states.

Auto executives have come under intense criticism from lawmakers, the White House and President-elect Barack Obama, who say the businessmen mismanaged their companies and ignored the need for more energy-efficient cars.

But the Bush administration and Mr. Obama say the United States cannot afford to lose the auto industry, a key part of the country’s manufacturing sector.