The CEOs of Detroit's three automakers and the head of the United Auto Workers union asked Democratic congressional leaders to rush more government aid to their companies, offering to accept conditions such as granting stock warrants to the government in return for capital, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing a person familiar with the discussions.
President-elect Barack Obama and some other Democrats have expressed support for proposals to double to $50 billion a previously authorized government-loan program aimed at helping the automakers build more efficient cars. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday made no explicit promises to the companies about further aid, the Journal reports.
A spokesman for Pelosi said she wants some form of "recoupment" for taxpayers in return for more subsidies, possibly faster rollout by the car makers of more fuel-efficient vehicles, the newspaper reports.
Sen. Reid said in a statement that the Bush administration should "exercise its existing authority to provide additional help" to the manufacturers, according to the newspaper. Reid also said Congress will "continue exploring ways to assist this important sector of our economy."The Bush administration has resisted using money from the $700 billion rescue package of the financial markets to help General Motors (GM), Ford Motor (F) and Chrysler. In an interview Thursday prior to the meeting, Pelosi suggested the government assistance should be tied to moves to improve fuel efficiency. GM and Ford are expected to report major losses Friday when they release third-quarter results. GM issued a statement Thursday describing the talks with Pelosi as "a very frank and constructive discussion ... on the deteriorating liquidity situation of our companies," the Journal reports.
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