The Bush Administration’s controversial auto bailout plan seems headed for failure in the Senate, despite the fact that it made it through the House last night in a 237-170 vote. The $14 billion plan, brokered by the White House, would send emergency loans to General Motors and Chysler with the intent to have them postpone a decision about bankruptcy until March.
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans broke with the White House and resoundingly denounced the bill, instead supporting a five-page amendment from Senator Bob Corker.
In essence, Corker would toughen the underlying administration bill by setting out specific steps which bondholders and labor must take to reduce GM’s debt and operating costs by the end of March or see the company go into bankruptcy.
Corker’s proposal has drawn the interest of GM management–given the company’s dire cash situation. And after discussions between Corker and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), United Auto Workers staff came to the Capitol and were meeting with Democratic and Republican aides to see if some agreement could be reached on language.
Look for action on the Corker amendment to come soon, since any changes to the bill would have to be run through the House again, and representatives have been making plans to return home. The Bush Administration would prefer to reach out to reticent senators personally in an effort to get the existing measure passed, according to The Hill.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino declined to tell reporters which senators Bush is targeting, but said he is making the case that legislation to be taken up in the Senate “is the most effective and reasonable approach” to helping the ailing domestic auto industry.
Perino said there “is a chance” the measure will pass.
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