The House Approves Auto Industry Financial Relief Bill

By December 11, 2008Economy, Labor Unions

Vote on H.R. 7321, Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act, was 237-170 (Roll Call Vote No. 690).

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez makes the Administration’s argument for the legislation in a Washington Post op-ed today, “A Bridge Detroit Needs.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s floor statement was good:

This bill is designed to give the automakers the time and space they need to become a competitive, job-creating industry once again. And it is designed to do so while protecting taxpayer dollars. Reconciling those two goals has taken long negotiations and compromises on both sides—but I am convinced that we have come to a sound solution.
These rescue loans are necessary—not to reward bad decision-making in Detroit, but to protect three million American jobs. Three million livelihoods, three million families depend on the automakers—not only their direct employees, but the workers at their suppliers, the small businesses that serve those workers, and entire communities. Are we really willing to put those workers at risk in this deep recession, after a month in which our country just lost 533,000 more jobs?
In any economy, and especially in this one, the failure of the automakers would be catastrophic. As John Judis put it recently in the New Republic, without public loans, ‘the industry will disappear the way the American television-manufacturing industry disappeared. American workers and engineers will lose their ability to compete in a major durable goods industry.’ That is the motive behind the $15 billion in emergency bridge loans for the car companies.
“But it is equally important to ensure that those loans lead to real reform—to ensure that we do not find ourselves right back in this same emergency in just a few months’ time. Congress has insisted that the automakers develop detailed plans for long-term viability—that they show us how they intend to build cost-effective, fuel-efficient cars for a 21st-century economy. Those viability plans were presented to Congress on December 2nd, and we have examined them in detail.

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