Desperate U.S. automakers ran into fresh obstacles from skeptical lawmakers yesterday as they appealed with rising urgency and a new dose of humility for a 34-billion-U.S.-dollars bailout. Without help, said one senator, "We're looking at a death sentence."
With lawmakers in both parties pressing the automakers to consider a pre-negotiated bankruptcy, which they have shunned consistently, the Big Three were contemplating a government-run restructuring that could yield results similar to bankruptcy, including massive downsizing, in return for the bailout billions. There was no assurance they could get even that.
And that wasn't all the unwelcome news. Congressional officials said during the day that one leading proposal, to tap an already-approved fund set aside for making cars environmentally efficient, would fail to supply the carmakers nearly as much money as they say they need.
Richard Wagoner, president and CEO of General Motors, Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company, and Robert Nardelli, president and CEO of Chyrsler LLC (L-R) testify during the U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing on the financial assistance package for the big Detroit automakers in Washington, Dec. 4, 2008. Desperate U.S. automakers appealed with rising urgency and a new dose of humility for a 34-billion-dollar bailout. (Xinhua/Zhang Yan)
The auto executives pleaded with lawmakers at a contentious Capitol Hill hearing _ their second round in less than a month -- for emergency aid before year's end. But with time running out on the current Congress, skepticism about the bailout appeared to be as strong as ever.
"In all due respect, folks, I don't think there's faith that the next ... three months will work out given the past history," said Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer.
"No thinking person thinks that all three companies can survive," said his Republican colleague, Bob Corker.
Richard Wagoner, president and CEO of General Motors, President of the United Auto Workers International Union Ron Gettelfinger, Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company, and Robert Nardelli, president and CEO of Chyrsler LLC (L-R) testify during the U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing on the financial assistance package for the big Detroit automakers in Washington, Dec. 4, 2008. (Xinhua/Zhang Yan)
Christopher Dodd, Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, was the senator who spoke of a death sentence, although he also said, "We're not going to leave town without trying" to help.
The auto executives are to make their case at a House of Representatives hearing on Friday, and Congress could take up rescue legislation next week in an emergency session.
Democratic congressional leaders were leaning on the White House to act on its own. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote to President George W. Bush on Thursday asking him, as they have repeatedly, to use the 700 billion dollars Wall Street rescue fund to help the automakers, which Bush consistently has refused to do. They argued that such a course was justified because of the potential for grave harm to the financial sector should a carmaker collapse. Source: Xinhua