Detroit's automakers appealed to congressional leaders Thursday for $25 billion more in federal loans, low-interest emergency borrowing and a share of the Wall Street bailout to help rescue an industry battered by the economic crisis.
WASHINGTON — Detroit’s automakers appealed to congressional leaders Thursday for $25 billion more in federal loans, low-interest emergency borrowing and a share of the Wall Street bailout to help rescue an industry battered by the economic crisis.
The talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., came as General Motors and Ford Motor were poised to announce billions more in losses and further job cuts today.
GM, Ford and Chrysler pledged to work with the leaders “to ensure immediate and necessary funding to keep the auto industry viable and its transformation on track during this critical time,” according to a GM statement.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal before the meeting, Pelosi said Democratic leaders are considering several options, including tax credits to encourage the purchase of new vehicles and additional financing beyond the $25 billion in low-interest loans approved by Congress in September to help the companies retool plants to build more fuel-efficient cars.
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“We have an industry — forget the companies — an industry in our country that is at risk,” Pelosi told the newspaper.
“Whatever we may think about the poor choices made by the companies, the industry is important to our country. The fate of the workers, their jobs, their health, their pensions, are important to them and to our economy.”
A person familiar with the discussions, who declined to be identified, said the company executives discussed legislative and funding options but there was no agreement on what to do.
GM said the additional federal support would allow “a competitive” auto industry “to contribute to our nation’s economic revival.”
The executives — Chrysler’s Bob Nardelli, Ford’s Alan Mulally and GM’s Rick Wagoner — were joined by the president of the United Auto Workers, Ron Gettelfinger.
They sought an additional $25 billion in federal loans for future health-care payments for retirees.
They also want lawmakers’ help in winning access to the $700 billion financial bailout being run by the Treasury Department and to low-rate emergency borrowing from the Federal Reserve’s discount window, used in normal times by banks.
The loans would help the companies make required payments to health-care trust funds created as part of a 2007 labor deal.