WASHINGTON (Nov. 20, 2008) — Congressional leaders left open the possibility of votes yet this week on legislation to provide $25 billion in emergency loans to the Detroit 3 auto makers and possibly to suppliers, but a stalemate remains.
Democratic leaders want to tap part of the $700 billion approved in October for rescue of the nation's financial system. The White House refuses that approach. A bipartisan group of senators sought Wednesday to broker a deal to use money approved in September for factory retooling for more fuel efficient vehicles.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Sen. Barney Frank told reporters House Democratic leaders won't accept an attempt to lift restrictions on the funds for industry retooling for fuel-efficient vehicles.
“It would be sending exactly the wrong signals to rescind the environmental requirements,” said Frank, D-Mass., at the close of a six-hour committee hearing on industry requests for aid.
If anything, some House Democrats want even stronger environmental demands on auto makers as a condition for aid, he said.
Auto makers already have applied for loans under the retooling program but don't expect money quickly and would not be able to use it for their immediate cash crisis.
Asked during the House hearing about the source of emergency funding, Rick Wagoner, General Motors Corp. CEO, said he doesn't want to be "prescriptive." In other words: send money, regardless of its source.