Dems Give White House Ultimatum on Auto Bailout

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf Reports: Democrats sent a clear message to the White House tonight - make some of the $700 financial industry bailout money available to the domestic auto industry or else. And they want an answer by Friday.Auto makers returned to Capitol Hill today two weeks after a chilly reception from bailout weary lawmakers.And while pleas from GM, Chrysler and Ford for bridge loans seemed to have some effect, prospects remain dim for an auto industry bailout passing Congress this year even though any later could spell the end of GM, according to prepared testimony from CEO Rick Wagoner.The White House and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have rejected the notion of using money from the so-called TARP - a $700 billion package passed by Congress in October to stabilize the financial industry.But in a letter Thursday night, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate told President Bush he must commit funds from either the TARP or the federal reserve or they will be unable to pass anything in Congress."Your decision to utilize the TARP funds, or to work with the Federal Reserve to make available assistance through its existing lending programs, or both, are essential to the Congress’ ability to address this critical economic situation in a timely manner, and would also eliminate the uncertainties inherent in the legislative process, " say Senate Makority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic committee chairmen in the letter.They go on: "We are very hopeful that we can work cooperatively with the Administration and the Federal Reserve to provide urgent assistance and support our domestic auto industry, just as other nations are doing, during this extraordinarily difficult global economic collapse. We look forward to hearing from you on an expedited basis, since we will be notifying colleagues tomorrow of next week’s session

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