December 10th, 2008
07:03 AM ET

Democrats & White House – Step on the gas

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Ted Barrett and Deirdre Walsh
CNN Capitol Hill Producers

A late meeting on Capitol Hill of congressional Democratic staff and staff from the White House on the auto loans broke up a few minutes ago with two senior Senate Democratic aides involved in the talks reporting progress on several key issues but not a done deal yet.

The two key remaining issues to be resolved involve whether to block the auto companies from suing states over their greenhouse gas emission standards and how the bill can ensure taxpayers can get repaid for loans to Chrysler, a privately held company, in the event the company goes bankrupt. Congressional Democrats want to add language they can reach up to the holding company, Cerberus Capital Management, if that happens, but the White House is “pushing back” according to one Democratic aide.

The talks did resolve two sticking points. One dealt with a provision that any expenditure by the three companies over $25 million would have to have to get prior government approval. To satisfy some Republicans who considered the requirement too cumbersome, the dollar amount was raised to $100 million.

The other change involved language to ensure the government would revoke the loans if the companies weren’t restructuring in a way the government found satisfactory. The legislative text was changed to say in the event that happens the government “shall” revoke the loans from “could” revoke them.

“The hammer is the loans get called,” said one of the aides.

More talks were possible late night Tuesday after the latest draft of the bill was circulated to key lawmakers, one of the aides said.

Both the House and Senate were prepared to take up the legislation as early as Wednesday but a decision hasn’t been made about which chamber will vote first.

In the Senate, a group of fiscally conservative Republicans were set to announce Wednesday they would try filibuster the bill. However, it is not clear if the handful of senators can block the bill although they should be able to drag out final passage through the weekend.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Deirdre Walsh • Economy • Raw Politics • Ted Barrett
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    Oh boy! When I hear the automakers want to sue a state, that really is upsetting! In the end, the taxpayers....pay, again....

    December 10, 2008 at 12:50 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    I hope the Congress get this bill ready and can get it passed so we can start to see some progress soon. And it is important that if Chrysler does go bankrupt that we get our money back – just like with any other lender. These bailouts are a bitter pill to swallow but hopefully we will remember that and not do the greedy stupid things that led up to this mess.

    December 10, 2008 at 10:00 am |
  3. Cindy

    At least congress is spending time on this bailout and making sure that it is done right and not just handing them over the money with no conditions like they did with Wall Street and the banks. They should have been this diligent then.


    December 10, 2008 at 9:17 am |