The First Draft: Monday, Dec 15

December 15, 2008

For Detroit’s struggling automakers, the wait continues.

There will be no word on the fate of the struggling industry’s financial bailout at least until President George W. Bush is safely home later on Monday after ducking shoes in Iraq and visiting U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the White House says.

Most analysts and observers are expecting White House action soon to help the carmakers after the Senate’s failure last week to approve a $14 billion bailout that could avert catastrophic failures and millions of job losses in a recession-wracked economy.

But White House spokesman Dana Perino said there was no timetable for a decision.

The future of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich also hangs in the balance. He remains in office but largely out of sight nearly a week after being charged with putting President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat up for sale.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Sunday she heard there was a possibility he would step aside on Monday, but Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero said there would be no resignation.

One thing is certain: Obama will hold a news conference at 5 p.m. EST (2200 GMT) to name members of his energy and environmental team, and he will face more questions about who on his staff might have talked to Blagojevich about the U.S. Senate seat.

Obama is expected to name Nobel physics laureate Steven Chu as energy secretary and former Environmental Protection Agency chief Carol Browner to head a new council to coordinate White House energy, climate and environment policies.

Obama is also expected to name Lisa Jackson, chief of staff for New Jersey’s governor, to run the EPA, and Nancy Sutley, a deputy mayor of Los Angeles, as head of the White House Council on environmental quality.

Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado, who once practiced as an environmental lawyer, is a leading contender for secretary of the interior.

Meanwhile, Reuters and Politico, the Washington political newspaper, have done a deal to distribute each other’s political, government and business news to subscribers in the United States and worldwide

For more Reuters political coverage, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Ali Jarekji (Saudi men read about shoe attack on Bush in Iraq)

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