House panel to probe auto dealer closings

July 20, 2009 at 3:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers say they are at odds with the Obama administration over the General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC dealership closings.

Lawmakers want to know the role the Obama administration played in GM's and Chrysler's decisions to close more than 3,000 auto dealerships combined and shutter factories, costing tens of thousands of jobs, The Detroit News reported.

The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is to start a two-day hearing Tuesday, with automaker lawyers expected to testify on the closings, the newspaper said.

"This was a chance for Congress to say you don't get to crush state franchise laws, and you don't get to put thousands of dealers out of business because you feel like it," said Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio.

Republicans consider the auto bailout a significant political issue, noting that even U.S. President Barack Obama observed his approval ratings for lending money to the automakers are among his lowest, the News said.

Lawmakers are pushing to revoke the dealer shutdowns, demanding the White House release records documenting its involvement in restructuring decisions.

On Friday, the House Financial Services Committee voted unanimously to push the White House to turn over information about the White House auto task force's oversight of the GM and Chrysler restructurings.

The non-binding resolution, which now goes to the full House for a vote, includes documents relating to how dealerships that were eliminated or slated for termination were chosen.

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