Washington Blinks: $15 Billion For The Automakers

As we suspected, the horrible jobs number may have saved Detroit — at least for now. Several news outlets are reporting that Congressional leaders and the White House have agreed to some kind of initial, temporary aid for the automakers valued around $15 billion. That’s not as much as what GM (GM), Ford (F) and Chrysler have been asking for, but it should forestall immediate bankruptcy at GM and Chrysler — when Obama comes into office, they can negotiate some further cash transfer:

Reuters: Congressional Democrats and the White House reached agreement on Friday night on a price tag, between $15 billion and $17 billion, and a funding source for temporary aid, two senior congressional aides said.

The financing issues had been the primary stumbling blocks to a broader bailout agreement in recent weeks.

The money will come from a yet to be tapped Energy Department loan program approved in September to help automakers make more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Since this money is coming out of an already-approved Energy Department loan program, we’re not sure if this actually requires another vote — which would be pretty great for all those involved, given how unpopular a bailout seems to be.

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