WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after President Bush announced plans to provide government assistance to prevent the collapse of the American auto industry:
“In deciding today to lend rescue funds to the automakers, President Bush took a necessary step to prevent further economic decline. With the automakers already forced to idle plants and lay off thousands of workers, it has become increasingly clear that federal assistance is the only thing standing between the American auto industry and collapse. That collapse would put up to three million jobs at risk—at a time when the number of Americans filing unemployment claims has recently reached a 26-year high.
“Today’s decision can give the automakers the time and space they need to become a competitive, job-creating industry once again. The Big Three must produce cost-effective, fuel-efficient cars for the 21st century economy; and if they are not on the path to viability by March 31st, the loans will be called, and the automakers will be a step closer to bankruptcy. That outcome can, I hope, be avoided—but only if these loans lead to real reform of a vital American industry.
"Treasury Secretary Paulson has also stated that the Bush Administration will seek access to the second half of the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program fund. I look forward to discussing that request with President-elect Obama’s transition team and Secretary Paulson. However, I remain concerned that the Bush Administration has failed to effectively utilize TARP funds for home foreclosure mitigation efforts and has also been lax in its oversight responsibilities thus far."