In his weekly radio address, released one day early by the White House, Bush said the big three automakers should be able to use loans authorized this year to meet their cash needs, even though the funds are meant to promote improved fuel efficiency.
The automakers have been pressing Congress for additional loans as they face a cash crisis in a slumping economy and a global financial crisis. Three U.S. senators -- Michigan Democrat Carl Levin and Republicans Christopher Bond of Missouri and George Voinovich of Ohio -- proposed a compromise but Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill delayed a vote on the measure until the carmakers present specific proposals on how they would use the funds.
"Under the law, this money is not available to help auto companies with their immediate funding challenges," Bush said. "So this past week, Senators Bond, Levin, and Voinovich came forward with a new proposal that would allow auto companies to access the loans they need -- as long as they're willing to restructure to become financially viable.
"This proposal earned support from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill," said Bush, who is in Lima for a summit meeting with leaders from nations in the Asia Pacific region. "Unfortunately, the leadership in Congress adjourned without even allowing this measure to come up for a vote."