Auto Service World
News   November 12, 2008   by Auto Service World

Congress members look to aid automakers with emergency legislation

Members of Congress said they are preparing emergency legislation that would provide more U.S. federal aid to the auto industry, according to reports at Automotive News.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said a bill is being drafted to provide “emergency and limited financial assistance” to the industry as part of a US$700 billion financial rescue program already on the books.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., also announced plans for bipartisan legislation to aid the industry. He said it will be introduced if the Bush administration fails to “understand the impact of the auto industry on the economy” and refuses to approve loans from the US$700 billion bailout fund, aimed mainly at banks.

Separately, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., is planning to announce a bill that would make automobile loan interest deductible from federal taxes.

The proposal is part of a package of ideas the National Automobile Dealers Association advocates to boost business at dealerships and lift the nation’s economy.

Maryland dealers deserve credit for getting the proposal on interest deductions introduced in Congress, said NADA spokesman Bailey Wood.

Mikulski is scheduled to announce details of her bill in appearances at two Maryland dealerships. The bill also would make vehicle sales or excise taxes deductible from U.S. federal taxes.

Pelosi, in a statement on her Web site, said: “I have asked Chairman Barney Frank of the House Financial Services Committee to work with House and Senate leaders, and with the Bush administration, to craft legislation to provide emergency and limited financial assistance to the automobile industry” under the bank bailout law.

“Emergency assistance to the automobile industry would be conditioned on executive compensation restrictions, a prohibition on golden parachutes, rigorous independent oversight, and other taxpayer protections to ensure that any companies that benefit from this assistance — and not the taxpayers — bear the full burden of repaying any costs that are incurred,” Pelosi said.

All of the bills would be considered during a lame-duck session of Congress, scheduled to begin on Monday. But uncertainly hangs over the session.

Automakers and the UAW want the lame-duck Congress to consider approving US$25 billion in government loans to health benefit trusts for retired autoworkers, and directing federal agencies to make other emergency loans to help strapped auto companies avoid collapse.

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