Automaker bill failure sparks GOP intra-party war

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Republicans wanted to have a date certain in 2009 by which the auto unions would have to have a lower pay scale comparable to manufacturers such as Nissan and Volkswagen.

But Mr. Gettelfinger said the differences between various wage scales was unclear and to determine a level of parity would require research, which he said the union would want to extend to the management teams and supplier contracts for foreign-transplant car compaines in the U.S.

Mr. Gettelfiner said Repubicans wanted the auto industry restructured “on the backs of workers and retirees,” adding that none of the other stakeholders — Big Three management and creditors — were asked to set a date certain for concessions.

Mr. Bush did win praise from Democratic leaders who said he had negotiated fairly with them.

They also urged him to use the TARP funds a move they had advocated from the beginning though they said he should insist auto manufacturers meet the requirements set forth in the bill Congress tried to pass.

“That legislation contained tough accountability and strict timelines for the automakers to develop a comprehensive restructuring plan to place them on a path toward viability and competitiveness,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to Mr. Bush. “Failure by the automakers and other stakeholders to act urgently in developing and implementing a restructuring plan would end taxpayer assistance and permit the recalling of all loans.”

Both General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC have suggested they could be just a few weeks away from bankruptcy without the prompt passage of a bill. Ford Motor Co. is in somewhat better short-term shape, but the collapse of even one of Detroit’s Big Three would have huge repercussions throughout the economy. Together, they employ about 3 million people in autoworker and industry-related jobs.

President-elect Barack Obama said Mr. Bush and Congress should keep working.

“I share the frustration of so many about the decades of mismanagement in this industry that has helped deliver the current crisis. Those bad practices cannot be rewarded or continued. But I also know that millions of American jobs rely directly or indirectly on a viable auto industry, and that the beginnings of reform are at hand,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Obama is no longer in the Senate but Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is. Mr. Biden did not vote on the package.

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