Top executives of the Detroit Three were scheduled to be back in the nation’s capital Thursday, November 6, to make a personal appeal for billions of dollars in additional federal help.
Leaders of the companies and the United Auto Workers are to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, about providing more low-interest loans to automakers, according to published reports Thursday.
A likely vehicle for the funds would be economic stimulus legislation that Pelosi has said she wants Congress to enact in a lame-duck session scheduled to begin November 17.
The meeting comes fast on the heels of action by the Bush administration to speed some of the $25 billion in low-interest loan money that Congress and the White House approved in September for automakers and suppliers.
Late Wednesday, the Department of Energy issued what it called an “interim final rule” that provides companies with guidance on how to apply for loans.
The rule, however, cannot remove restrictions that federal law places on the loan funds—mainly that they be used to undertake projects for substantially improving fuel economy and that projects be “financially viable” without additional federal money.
All of which means the funds, even if they become available sooner than the six to 18 months predicted earlier by the department, still may not relieve the cash crisis said to be threatening the survival of some companies.
A department spokeswoman reiterated to Automotive News this week that the loans were never meant to provide a capital infusion for the automobile industry.
The new loan package, if approved, would have fewer restrictions, and could help keep struggling companies going through a deep recession, industry sources have said.