Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is now calling for an automaker bailout during next week’s lame-duck session, but it’s unclear if Democrats will be able to get that, or any other stimulus package, signed into law by President Bush. “In order to prevent the failure of one or more of the major American automobile manufacturers, which would have a devastating impact on our economy, particularly on the men and women who work in that industry, Congress and the Bush Administration must take immediate action,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Pelosi said she has asked Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to craft legislation to provide emergency assistance to the industry accompanied by restrictions on executive pay, independent oversight and provisions for the aid to be paid back to taxpayers.
“I am confident Congress can consider emergency assistance legislation next week during a lame-duck session, and I hope the Bush Administration would support it,” she said.
House Democratic aides said earlier Tuesday that they may not even have a lame-duck session unless Bush shows new willingness to embrace a rescue plan for the economy that includes infrastructure spending and automaker aid.
“I doubt it,” said one senior Democratic aide. No decision has been made, but it’s looking unlikely “with the president really not interested in playing ball on a stimulus bill.”
House Democrats note that they already passed a stimulus package before leaving town last month. “It might make the most sense for the Senate to pick up the bill we just passed and add autos to it,” the aide said.
Another Democratic aide said there is probably a 50-50 chance of a lame duck, and it would depend on whether the Senate can act.
The Senate will be in session next week, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide, but no decisions have been made on whether to push forward with a stimulus or address pleas by automakers for a bailout.
As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated before Congress left for the election, the Senate is likely to take up an omnibus package of land bills that have been blocked by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).