Updated from 12:06 p.m. EDT

Help is on the way for auto suppliers.

The Obama administration says it will provide up to $5 billion in a program to help stabilize the automotive supply base and restore credit flows.

"This announcement represents the first step of the Obama administration's effort to help this critical industry," Steven Rattner, the adviser to the president's auto task force, told reporters on a conference call Thursday.

"Unlike General Motors ( GM) and Chrysler, (suppliers) have yet to receive any help at all from the government, even though they are suffering from the same problems," he said. "Without a supplier base, the OEMS (original equipment manufacturers) obviously cannot function, cannot make cars."

The program, which takes its funding from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, will be run through U.S. automakers who seek to participate. So far, Ford ( F) has not done so.

Essentially, the government is establishing a revolving credit facility, facilitating the credit needs of suppliers who pay fees of 1% to 2% for participation. Besides the $5 billion, GM and Chrysler will each provide an amount equal to 5% of the facility they have available, or $250 million each.

Receivables referring to goods shipped after Thursday will be eligible for the program. The automakers will select the participants. "They know far better than we do who needs help," Rattner said.

The program is not available to foreign automakers with U.S. plants, or to foreign suppliers. "The suppliers in stronger part of auto industry don't have same problem, Rattner said. "They don't have same degree of uncertainty about receivables."

If you liked this article you might like

The 15 Best S&P 500 Dividend Stocks of the Last 25 Years

5 REITs to Trade for Gains in December: Select Income REIT and More

The Graham Number: 5 Undervalued Stocks With Huge ROE

Alexander's Inc. Stock Upgraded (ALX)

'Mad Money' Lightning Round: Discard Hewlett-Packard