Monday, November 17, 2008

The Big Three Bailout

Battle over Big Three bailout looms in lame-duck Congress
(CNN) -- Congress kicked off a special lame-duck session Monday, and a partisan battle awaits over the fate of the nation's Big Three automakers.
As newly minted legislators convened in Washington on Sunday for this week's orientation and leadership elections, the 110th Congress met in its last session before passing the baton January 6.

Specifically, Senate Democrats were trying to earn GOP support for their proposed bailout of the Big Three automakers. Democrats would like to see a vote Wednesday, but some concede they probably don't have the support.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, speaking on the Senate floor Monday, urged action on the plan.

"The Treasury Department has acknowledged that they could provide the auto companies the temporary assistance to keep automakers solvent by taking money out of the $700 billion we've already provided to the Treasury Department," Reid said.

"If we move forward, we can protect American jobs, help American families and prevent our economy from falling further into a recession," he said. "In the event there is objection to passing this important legislation, we'll have the opportunity to vote on a second piece of legislation ... that consists solely of unemployment insurance and relief for the auto industry and the auto industry's work force."

Two House Democratic aides confirm that House Democratic leaders and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, are scheduled to meet with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Monday afternoon.

The meeting -- to take place in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office -- will include an update on the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, the $700 billion measure that was passed last month to help bail out financial institutions.

"One out of 10 jobs in this country are auto-related. Twenty percent of retail sales are auto-related or automobiles, so this is a national problem," Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

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