The partial bailout of the auto industry passed the lower house quite easily yesterday evening, 237-170, but prospects in the upper chamber, the Senate, don’t look as good. After some key Republicans, including Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, announced their opposition to it, it’s not clear whether the votes are there to get it through. The problem isn’t really that several Republicans are opposed, but that not all Democrats are on board, and that until the new Congress comes in, it’s still basically a 50-50 split.
AP: Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana is opposing the measure because of a provision to bail out transit agencies that were involved in transactions now considered unlawful tax shelters.
Under the House-passed bill, the carmakers would have to submit blueprints on March 31 to the industry overseer showing how they would restructure to ensure their survival, although they could be given until the end of May to negotiate with the government on a final agreement.
The automakers initially asked Congress for $25 billion, then returned two weeks later to plead for as much as $34 billion. But with the White House refusing to dole out new spending for the Big Three, congressional Democrats agreed to use an existing program that was to help carmakers retool their factories to make more fuel-efficient cars.
What does a provision to bail out transit agencies involved in unlawful tax shelters have to do with the auto bailout? We have no idea, which is why we noted yesterday that for this to pass it would need all kinds of goodies to appeal to each member.