Pelosi, Reid and Emanuel Push for Carmaker Bailout

2560777189_1cfcb929ba.jpgCadillac assembly line replica at the Detroit Historical Museum
Over the weekend, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate urged the Bush administration to extend financial aid intended for Wall Street to struggling domestic carmakers, a move that could have the support of President-elect Obama.

The Times reports that on Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid co-signed a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson asking that part of the $700 billion bailout package be directed toward Detroit. "A healthy automobile manufacturing sector is essential to the restoration of financial market stability, the overall health of our economy and the livelihood of the automobile sector’s workforce," they wrote.

The letter was issued following a Thursday meeting between Congressional leaders and representatives of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, as Big Three sales continue to plunge. On Friday, GM announced that it could begin running out of cash in 2009.

Rahm Emanuel, incoming White House chief of staff, hinted on Sunday that his boss could be amenable to the Pelosi-Reid proposal. Again, the Times

When asked on ABC’s "This Week" where Mr. Obama stood on the issue, Mr. Emanuel seemed to suggest that Mr. Obama, as a last resort, might be open to tapping the rescue fund to help carmakers, calling the auto industry an "essential part of our industrial base."

He added that Mr. Obama has asked his economic team to look at ways to involve the industry in shaping an energy policy that weans the country off foreign oil, seeking ways to use the $25 billion in loans that Congress passed in September to help make auto plants more capable of producing fuel-efficient cars.

The Bush White House, for its part, has indicated it would not support using bailout funds for the Big Three.

Photo: MarkinDetroit/Flickr