McConnell Withholding Support on Auto Loans

Posted November 14, 2008 at 4:21pm

Signaling likely tension in the upcoming lame-duck session, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday criticized Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for prematurely seeking support a bill to aid the automotive industry.

“Sen. Reid has not yet provided us with the text of his proposed spending bill, or the cost to the taxpayer, or its impact to the deficit,” McConnell said. “So it would be a real challenge to promise any level of support or opposition sight unseen.”

For the upcoming session, Reid has indicated that he would like to bring forward a package to extend unemployment insurance benefits and aid the ailing American automotive industry. But Reid said in a letter to McConnell Friday that he needs the support of Republicans to get it done.

“In my view, the adoption of a robust recovery package should be the top priority of the upcoming lame duck session,” Reid said in his letter. “That is why I intend to seek consent on a bill to create jobs, prevent large tax increases and cuts in state services, strengthen our nation’s manufacturing sector, and assist those struggling to find a job.”

Reid was looking to win McConnell’s support for a broader economic stimulus bill and an auto loan package. The Nevada Democrat said he would move forward on the auto loan and unemployment insurance if Republicans continued their block against the larger stimulus bill.

McConnell said that he would reserve judgment on the legislation until he sees it in writing.

“Perhaps when a bill is actually written, and its costs are known, both Republicans and Democrats can take a position on the legislation. But it sure would be helpful to actually see the bill before commenting on it,” McConnell said.