The First Draft, Dec. 8
Washington is focused on one issue this morning — how to stop the U.S. auto industry from driving off a cliff.
The Senate reconvenes on Monday, and congressional aides say it may consider as early as Tuesday legislation on a $15 billion deal to rescue America’s “Big Three” automakers from oblivion.
Democratic negotiators in Congress modified their draft proposal on Sunday, a congressional aide said, and planned to get it to the White House for consideration.
The New York Times and Washington Post reported that Democrats were considering creating an oversight board made up of five cabinet secretaries and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and led by an independent chairman or “car czar”.
The board would oversee the restructuring that the car giants have agreed to in exchange for the short-term loans. The Post said the board would develop broad restructuring goals for the companies but could not compel them to act.
Investors appeared confident on Monday that the automakers will be thrown a financial lifeline. Shares of General Motors shot up 22.5 percent to $5 before the bell, and Ford shares climbed 19.5 percent to $3.25.
U.S. stock index futures also rose on hopes that President-elect Barack Obama’s plan for major infrastructure investment will help get the economy back on its feet.
Elsewhere in Washington, President George W. Bush will attend a Christmas reception for children at the White House before visiting the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Virginia.