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Congress has agreement on automaker bailouts

by Bill Cawthon on

Late Friday evening, the Democratic leadership of Congress said they have worked out an agreement on a bailout plan for the Detroit automakers. According to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the measure is intended to provide short-term loans to General Motors, Ford and Chrysler allowing them to fund operations until President-elect Barack Obama takes office January 20.

According to a senior congressional aide who spoke to Reuters, the plan has also passed muster with the White House.

The package totals between $15 billion and $17 billion. The money would come from the $25 billion fund Congress approved in September to help the car companies develop more fuel-efficient vehicles and retool factories to build them. Speaker Pelosi says she would require “a guarantee that those funds would be replenished in a matter of weeks.” She would also insist the automaker continue to work on new vehicles.

Congress is scheduled to vote on the bailout program next week.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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