A senior Democratic senator raised doubts on Thursday that an attempt to bail out U.S. automakers had enough support to clear Congress this year.
As Republicans amplified their concerns about a bailout, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd raised the biggest red flag for fellow Democrats trying to craft a $25 billion rescue and pass it during a post-election session set to start next week.
By John Crawley and Rachelle Younglai, Reuters
“Right now, I don’t think there are the votes,” Dodd of Connecticut told reporters about prospects in the Senate. “I want to be careful of bringing up a proposition that might fail,” he said.
Although Dodd said “we ought to do something” and personally backed using money from the ongoing $700 billion financial services rescue program to help Detroit, he was skeptical that enough Republicans would support a bailout.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, also cautioned that success of a bailout rests with Senate Republicans and the White House. With their slim majority, Democrats cannot force a measure through the Senate or trump a White House veto.
The White House opposes the approach being taken by congressional Democrats but has not threatened to block any bailout. Bush administration officials have said they would consider other steps Congress can take to help General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler LLC.
Dodd said there have been “legitimate issues raised” about how to help.