Toyota, BMW, Hyundai Workers' Senators Oppose Rescue
(Bloomberg) -- Senators from southern states with factories owned by Asian and European car manufacturers oppose a bailout of U.S. automakers, saying the industry can thrive without General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC.
Republican Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and James DeMint of South Carolina, are among lawmakers trying to derail Democratic plans, supported by President-elect Barack Obama, to provide at least $25 billion in loans to the three U.S. companies.
``We have a very large and vibrant automobile sector in Alabama,'' Sessions told Bloomberg Television on Nov. 11. ``I don't feel like this is the end of the world.''
Alabama has two assembly plants owned by Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler AG, one operated by Tokyo-based Honda Motor Co. and one by Seoul-based Hyundai Motor Co. Munich-based Bayerische Motoren Werke AG employs about 4,500 people at a Spartanburg, South Carolina, assembly plant.
The proposal to loan automakers $25 billion from October's $700 billion financial rescue package will be debated during a post-election lame-duck session of Congress this week.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd plans to hold a hearing tomorrow on the legislation, which he supports. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, who is drafting the legislation with Michigan Senator Carl Levin, plans a hearing the following day. GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner and Ford CEO Alan Mulally are scheduled to testify before the committees.
The bill will likely be a tough sell with many Republicans who, in principle, oppose government intervention in the private sector.
``Companies fail every day and others take their place,'' Shelby said on CBS's ``Face the Nation'' yesterday.
Bush said he opposes using money from the $700 billion fund designed to ease a global credit crisis. Instead he called on Congress Nov. 14 to use money from a previously approved proposal for auto-industry loans originally intended to aid development of more fuel-efficient vehicles.
``Taxpayers should not have to subsidize private companies that are unwilling to show they can be viable,'' White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said today in an e-mailed statement. ``It is clear that U.S. automakers must restructure in order to be viable.''
Perino said this morning that Democrats don't have enough votes in the Senate to pass a bailout using money from the $700 financial rescue fund.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Nov. 15 that diverting money from the earlier plan to ease a current cash crisis would be ``a step backward'' in promoting long-term auto-industry competitiveness. Democratic leaders want to use some of the money from the $700 billion financial-rescue package to meet automakers' emergency needs.
The outcome may depend on action by the Senate, where Democrats' narrow 51-49 working majority gives Republican opponents a better opportunity to block a bailout. While the party will pick up at least a half-dozen seats as a result of Nov. 4's elections, those changes won't take effect until January.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Nov. 14 urged his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to allow a vote. McConnell made no such promise.
``Senator Reid has not yet provided us with the text of his proposed spending bill, or the cost to the taxpayer, or its impact on the deficit,'' McConnell said. ``So it would be a real challenge to promise any level of support or opposition sight unseen.'' Kentucky has Ford, GM and Toyota Motor Corp. assembly plants, and a Toyota engine factory. snip