While Congressional Democrats and the White House have reached a deal on a bailout for automakers, Republican lawmakers continue to oppose the bill. At a press conference held just moments ago, Richard Shelby appaeared to threaten a filibuster against the baillout.
The bill worked out between the Bush administration and Capitol Hill Democrats would create a so-called “car czar” who wouldbe authorised to force GM Chrysler into bankruptcy if the companies don’t come up with a restructuring plan by March 31. But critics doubt that such a move would realistically be undertaken even if automakers failed to meet obligations, and point to the problems with the TARP as demonstrating the dangers with granting broad powers to unaccountable agency heads.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said today that Republicans are not prepared to back the auto-bailout. With the majority of the American public telling pollsters they oppose the bailout, it seems clear that we may face a standoff much like that faced this fall when Democratic lawmakers refused to pass the bailout without a high level of support from the Republican minority.
In the press conference this afternoon, Shelby said he was prepared to talk to the American people about the problems with the bailout bill. Washington insiders tell us that this is a coded threat of a filibuster, indicating that the opposition senators could keep the bill from coming up for a vote by continuing to debate the bill endlessly.