Lame Duck Under Way; Reid Says Aid a Must

Posted December 8, 2008 at 2:58pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday afternoon officially opened his chamber for a second lame-duck session, saying that while it is lamentable, Congress must use the week to pass an aid package for the ailing automotive industry.

Reid said the legislation that Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) worked on over the weekend is “trying to save Detroit” from failure.

He said that while “no solution will satisfy everyone, and no legislation would be cause for celebration,” lawmakers have an opportunity to come together and find a workable compromise. Reid said the Big Three auto companies “teeter on the brink of collapse” and millions of jobs are at risk.

“Although the blame for this desperate state falls squarely on the shoulders of those who run the Big Three, the consequences of their failures could broadly impact our entire country,” Reid said.

One senior Democratic aide said Congress and the White House are close to a deal that would begin payouts of a $15 billion loan to the Ford Motor Co., Chrysler and General Motors Corp. on Dec. 15.

Dodd said Monday morning that actual language had not been written, but Congressional Democrats and the White House were on course to strike an agreement. He added that the funds given to auto manufacturers would entirely come from money that was previously appropriated by Congress to create environmentally friendly cars, rather than the $700 billion rescue package for U.S. financial markets.