U.S. automakers shift gears in Washington

Sept. 17, 2008 at 9:56 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. automakers have shifted their focus in Washington from requesting a $50 billion loan to securing $25 billion promised last year, observers said.

General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner and Ford Co. Chairman Bill Ford were both in Washington Tuesday to lobby for government to appropriate funds that would free up $25 billion in subsidized loans that were part of last year's energy bill, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Automakers had been focusing on asking for a new, low-interest government loan of $50 billion. But, this week's sudden shift in financial fortunes on Wall Street have altered the strategy, the newspaper reported.

The federal government's failure to help Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, has forced automakers to reconsider how much taxpayer money will be made available.

The $25 billion loan was passed into law, but Congress has yet to commit the $7.5 billion needed to finance the program.

"We're just asking that these loans now be funded," Wagoner said in a speech Tuesday celebrating GM's centennial.

Topics: Bill Ford
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