Big Three Bailout: The Votes Still Aren't There

December 10, 2008
The White House and Congressional leaders are finally in sync on a Big Three bailout--but Republican senators against the current version of the bill floating around the Capitol have enough votes to block it.

The Associated Press reports the votes still aren't there for a bridge-loan package for GM and Chrysler, which Ford would also be eligible for. The current package includes the same batch of bullet points that have been circulating since the Big Three CEOs paid a visit to Washington in their most fuel-efficient vehicles. The latest talking points include the nomination of a "car czar" to oversee the loans; a March 31, 2009 deadline to produce a workable business plan including major cuts from management and labor; a one-time, one-month extension on that deadline if progress is shown; and a reduction in the pricetag to $14 billion, from $15 billion.

The money would come from a fund which was set up to help Detroit transition into a fleet of more fuel-efficient cars.

Republican Senators, the AP reports, haven't been included in the drafting of the bill and are gaining converts to help them filibuster the bill, which could come up for a vote later this evening in the House of Representatives.

In current form, the bill also includes bailouts for mass transit systems that bet on badly structured investments--and it also includes an unrelated pay raise for federal judges. It also includes provisions that could force automakers to conform to state greenhouse-gas limits that are being battled over in court.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are trying to float a bill that would simply insure private investments in the auto companies, not pump taxpayer dollars into them.

If the current bill passes the House, it could come up for a Senate vote later this week--but the AP notes that the House is reluctant to vote until it's certain the Senate will pass the bill.

UPDATE: The bill passed the House last night 237-170. A Senate vote is still pending.

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