Working through the weekend, Congress approved a $25 billion aid package for America’s sputtering auto industry. On Saturday, the Senate voted 78 to 12 to pass the auto bailout plan, which the House had passed earlier in the week. The President is expected to sign the bill into law this week. The bill kicks off with $7.5 billion in tax payer money from the Department of Energy in low-interest loans to help the auto industry, predominantly the Big Three, retool to make more fuel efficient cars.
These loans have been a long time coming. The program was actually written into law in last year’s energy bill aimed at helping automakers meet the new fuel efficiency standards of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The legislation passed over the weekend finally approved the appropriations to fund the program. The DOE now has 60 days to map out the details, but the DOE thinks it will likely take at least 18 months before GM, Ford, and Chrysler get the money.
Presidential hopefuls Obama and McCain have already voiced their support of the loan program. Obama has said throughout his campaign that as president he would work to help Detroit get out the mess it made for itself. His plan included $4 billion in loans and tax credits to car makers for factory retooling. But already Detroit is lobbying for another $25 billion in aid. How’s that story go about when you give a mouse an industry a cookie bailout?