Senate Democrats

Reid, Pelosi Call On Paulson To Use Authority To Provide Aid To Auto Industry

Washington, D.C.— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi today sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson calling on him to review the feasibility of using the authority given under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) of 2008 to provide temporary assistance to the automobile industry during this financial crisis. Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi added:  “Were you to determine that the automobile industry is eligible for assistance under EESA, we would urge you to impose strong conditions on such assistance in order to protect taxpayers and maximize the potential for the industry’s recovery.”

Below is the text of the letter:

Dear Secretary Paulson:

We are writing to request that you review the feasibility of invoking the authority Congress provided you under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) for the purpose of providing temporary assistance to the automobile industry during the current financial crisis.  Under EESA, Congress granted you broad discretion to purchase, or make commitments to purchase, financial instruments you determine necessary to restore financial market stability.  A healthy automobile manufacturing sector is essential to the restoration of financial market stability, the overall health of our economy, and the livelihood of the automobile sector’s workforce.  

The economic downturn and the crisis in our financial markets further imperiled our domestic automobile industry and its workforce.  On Thursday, we separately met with the leaders of the automobile industry, and its top union representative, to discuss the financial challenges confronting the industry and its workforce, and possible actions to address these challenges.  We left the meetings convinced that our nation’s automobile industry – the heart of our manufacturing sector – and the jobs of tens of thousands of American workers are at risk.  Friday’s news of the automobile industry’s record low sales figures only reaffirm the need for urgent action. 

Were you to determine that the automobile industry is eligible for assistance under EESA, we would urge you to impose strong conditions on such assistance in order to protect taxpayers and maximize the potential for the industry’s recovery.  An automobile industry that is forward-looking and focused on ingenuity, competitiveness, and the creation of green jobs for the future is essential to its long-term viability.  Other taxpayer protections should mirror those required of financial institutions currently participating in the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), such as limits on executive compensation and equity stakes to provide taxpayers a return on their investment upon the industry’s recovery.  Any assistance to the automobile industry should reflect the principles contained in EESA that guard against the need to recoup costs to the taxpayers.

We must safeguard the interests of American taxpayers, protect the hundreds of thousands of automobile workers and retirees, stop the erosion of our manufacturing base, and bolster our economy.  It is our hope that the actions that Congress has taken, and that the Administration may take, will restore the preeminence of our domestic manufacturing industry so that it can emerge as a global, competitive leader in fuel efficiency and in new and path-breaking energy-efficient technologies that protect our environment.  We appreciate your serious consideration of this request, and look forward to your response.

Best regards,

NANCY PELOSI                                        HARRY REID
Speaker of the House                                   Senate Majority Leader

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