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Auto Bailout Update

December 9, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

(Cross-posted from Senatus)

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said today that he is optimistic that Congressional Democrats and White House officials will reach an agreement on an automaker bailout/rescue bill (pdf) this morning. There are a couple of issues still to be worked out but Reid sounded confident that they would be completed soon.

As expected, the Senate will go first with debate and votes on the legislation once it is fully written and submitted. Reid wants to see the bill passed either today or tomorrow. He has heard from several members who have other engagements across the country at the end of this week so he would like to adjourn the body until next year as quickly as possible. The only other major item that could keep members through the week is if the President and his team request additional funds from the $700 billion economic rescue program which may need Congressional approval.

The big news, however, came from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who said the proposal, as it stands now, is “deeply flawed.” He went on to say that it “does not go nearly far enough” in requiring accountability and reforms to the structure of the “Big Three” automakers. He wants to see tougher provisions that force the companies to make changes and that will not leave the door open to future subsidizing by the federal government, which he believes the current bill would do. He also singled out a provision requiring that automakers drop state lawsuits against tough environmental standards as something he and his members oppose.

Although he said Republicans would reserve their judgment until seeing the final text, it sounds like he will oppose the legislation as significant changes from yesterday’s draft version are not likely to be made this morning. McConnell’s support was seen by many pundits as necessary if the bill were to pass. If no changes are made to satisfy his concerns, he will try to rally his members against the bill by way of filibuster.

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