White House, Democrats Negotiate Detroit Aid

Congressional Democrats and the White House have finally reached an agreement concerning the bill to aid the Detroit three automakers. The $15 billion “bridge loan” package is essentially ready to be voted on, though Democrats are now waiting to make sure they can win enough Republican votes in the Senate to pass the bill. Sixty votes are needed to push the bill through the Senate.

The bill remains essentially the same as it was when we last reported, but discussions between Congressional Democrats and the White House have resulted in a few revisions.

The largest revisions concern the so-called “car czar”: whereas previously the presidential appointee would have been given the power to force any automakers receiving loans but not meeting restructuring requirements into bankruptcy, new language in the bill now makes it a responsibility of the appointee to do so.

Also, the provision previously stating that any expenditure over $25 million would have to be pre-approved by the government has now been revised to expenditures over $100 million. Republicans believed the $25 million figure was too low.

Though speculation points to a vote sometime today, growing opposition from Senate Republicans may put a hamper in Democrats’ plans. Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada is planning a filibuster short of major changes in the bill negotiated by Congressional Democrats and the White House. Republicans are scheduled to have a lunch meeting to discuss the aid bill today.

Source: Automotive News