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Big Three Bailout: The Votes Aren't There

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White House Detroit meeting

White House Detroit meeting

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The heads of Detroit's automakers are in Washington, D.C., today with a revised--and more PR-friendly--appeal for desperately needed loans, but the Senate's majority leader says the votes aren't there.

The AP reports Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) as saying, "I just don't think we have the votes to do that now."

The Big Three automakers and their leaders--Ford's Alan Mulally, GM's Rick Wagoner, and Chrysler's Bob Nardelli--caravaned to the nation's capital seeking a bailout package worth $34 billion, up from the initial $25 billion proposed a few weeks ago when the executives arrived in D.C. famously on corporate jets. This time around, GM and Chrysler are warning they could be insolvent in a matter of weeks--and to underscore their commitment to rapid change, arrived in Washington in their most fuel-efficient vehicles.

The Congressional deadlock on loans for the automakers is caught up in no small amount of politicking. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson doesn't want automakers rolled into the $700 billion bailout fund he presides over; senators like Alabama's Richard Shelby are avowed against any Detroit bailout, more than likely because their constituents have nothing to lose (Alabama is home to transplant factories for Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota). If nothing passes from Congress before the holidays, it will be up to President Bush to approve a major financial package, although the Treasury has the authority to loan the automakers money.

GM says it needs $4 billion immediately, and Chrysler $7 billion, to stay in business until the end of the month.
 
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