WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said he believes Congress may be able to fashion a bailout plan for U.S. automakers based on what he heard Thursday.
"I believe we've got the makings that we can put something together," Dodd said after he adjourned the Senate Banking Committee hearing on government assistance for Detroit's Big Three. "I've got a working situation here and I'm going to try to get something done."
Chief executives of Chrysler, General Motors and Ford, along with the United Auto Workers union president and others, spent nearly six hours answering questions about why the auto industry needs bridge loans to make it through first quarter 2009.
Dodd, chairman of the committee, said after the hearing he believed congressional members agree that some type of assistance is needed and also agree that "we're not going to write a check for any amount of money without serious conditionality."
He chided U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for not exercising the authority Congress granted them when it approved the $700 billion bailout for U.S. financial markets.
"Their refusal to do anything at all is deeply disturbing," he said.
Referring to UAW President Ron Gettlefinger's stated belief that General Motors would collapse by year's end if it doesn't receive a cash infusion, Dodd said, "I don't think any of us wants to play Russian roulette" with the automakers specifically and the U.S. economy generally.
About four hours into the hearing, protesters interrupted the questioning, chanting, "the bailout is a sellout" before being escorted from the hearing room.
The automakers will testify Friday before the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.