Deal Near on $15B Auto Deal

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WASHINGTON - It looks like a deal is in the works to rescue the auto industry and it could go to a vote as early as this week.

Supporters say more is at stake than just keeping strong American brands open for business. They say Congress must act because the economy and millions of jobs hang in the balance.

Welcome to Uncle Sam's Barber Shop

The rescue plan totals $15 billion and comes with strings attached.

Congressional leaders warn all parties - from labor to shareholders to the dealers and the suppliers - that there's some trimming in store.

"We call this the barbershop - everybody's getting a haircut here," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

The money for the short-term package comes from another existing loan program designed to help the Big Three make greener, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The plan would authorize the $15 billion bridge loan with the appointment of a so-called car czar that would oversee the industry's reforms and approve any transactions totaling more than $25 million.

It would also put a cap on executive compensation and ban the use of corporate jets.

That money is just enough to steer Chrysler and General Motors - the two most venerable companies - away from bankruptcy, giving the automakers from now until March to show their progress.

"If in a number of weeks, the automotive industry, the Big Three, are not on a path to viability, we may want our money back sooner," Pelosi warned.

Critics Voice Concerns

But some critics worry too much federal oversight borders on nationalizing the auto industry - an idea President-elect Barack Obama shot down Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, saying "we don't want the government to run companies."

Still, others are concerned about Detroit's viability, and whether they can pay back the taxpayers' loan.

"I believe that viability means that all aspects of the companies need to be reexamined to make sure that they can survive in the long term," President George W. Bush said.

Even after a deal is struck, it still would have an uphill battle gathering enough support on Capitol Hill. A number of Republicans aren't on board.

"The model for these companies is failure. These companies have already failed - or are failing. And should we rescue them? I say no," said Sen. Richard Shelby.

But time is of the essence.

Even though ford is in better financial position than GM or Chrysler, it says if one of other Big Three goes under, Ford might fail too.

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CBN News
John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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