The White House says it has had "constructive" talks with congressional
leaders on a deal to prevent the country's ailing auto industry from
But in a statement on Saturday , press secretary Dana Perino said
no money should go out unless there is a good chance taxpayers will be
Senior congressional aides said late Friday that the deal being
discussed would give the so-called Big Three automakers -- General
Motors, Ford and Chrysler -- 15 billion to 17 billion dollars in loans.
They say the money would be enough to keep the companies operating for
at least the next few months, and that it would come from an existing,
multi-billion-dollar program aimed at helping the automakers produce
more fuel-efficient cars.
The aides say details of the plan -- which will also include
significant oversight -- still have to be worked out. But lawmakers say
they expect to vote on the plan next week.
Plans to rescue the auto industry took on added significance Friday
after the U.S. government reported the country lost 533-thousand jobs
in November -- the steepest monthly employment decline in 34 years.
U.S. President George Bush said he is concerned about the flood of lost
jobs, but that his administration is working to deal with the causes of
the problem -- the housing market collapse and tight credit. Officials
say the Bush administration and the Treasury Department may
also move ahead with more initiatives to bolster the economy, and that
they may ask Congress to release the second half of the 700 billion
dollar financial rescue package. Almost 350 million dollars has already
Earlier Friday, executives from automakers Ford, Chrysler and General
Motors appeared before the House Financial Services Committee, seeking
up to 34 billion dollars in government aid. The companies, and the
autoworkers union, have warned that without a government loan, millions
of jobs could be lost.