ABC's Zach Wolf from DC:With a whirlwind set of press conferences, supposed deals, nixed deals and frustration over whether to bail out the auto industry with $25 billion in low-interest loans or take the chance of letting it go bust, the Congress's lame duck session keeps getting longer and longer.
Early this afternoon came word that lawmakers from states big into the US auto industry had crafted a bipartisan deal to take $25 billion Congress already appropriated to lend the auto industry to make more fuel efficient cars and use that money to make sure the American auto industry keeps making any cars at all.
But its unclear that the deal has enough votes to pass in the House, so Democratic leaders hastily called their own press conference to announce No Deal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said there will be more hearings on a auto industry bailout after Thanksgiving and that the manufacturers should present a detailed plan on how they will use taxpayer money to become viable, profitable companies again.
Then, if the plan gains traction, Reid said Congress will come back in session the week of December 8th to consider legislation.
We're prepared to come back into session the week of December 8th to help the auto industry. But only if they present a viable plan that gives us in the Congress the confidence that taxpayers and autoworkers will be well-served," said Reid.
"Until they show us the plan, we can't show them the money," said Pelosi.
So after Turkey Day, the auto execs will (presumably not in the chartered jets that left a bad taste in everyone's mouth this week) return to Congress to ask again, more nicely, for their loans.
After Reid and Pelosi had their No Deal press conference, the bipartisan automaker state Senators, led by Democrat Carl Levin from Michigan and Republican George Voinovich from Ohio, filtered into the same room to tell reporters about the deal that is not.
Levin warned Reid and Pelosi that by delaying the auto company loans, they ware taking more responsibility if one of the companies goes under.
"Now, this is right smack in the Congress' lap by the decision of the leaders. It is not in our lap today or tomorrow, the way we would've liked it and the way we propose it, working very hard on a bipartisan basis but by the decisions of the leaders, that they could safely delay a week or two while the plans are submitted and the Congress looks at them," he warned.
Levin and company complained that their compromise could have passed the Senate today, but they were not given the opportunity to have a vote on it. So while they are frustrated to have to wait to make their case, Levin said they encouraged that Pelosi and Reid today gave the auto industry another chance.
And he was animatedly frustrated with the Bush administration for not acting on its own to use financial industry bailout money (remember that bailout?)
Bankruptcy is not an option because it would mean dissolution and not Chapter 11, but Chapter 7, Levin said. "Let me tell you something. We want to talk about responsibility. There's risks in this delay. But the greatest responsibility, in my judgment, if any one of these companies go under in the next few weeks or because of this delay, won't be because of the delay. It'll be because of a decision by Secretary Paulson not to use available funds $700 billion in a stabilization fund. One -- 4 percent of that is about $25 billion. One -- and that's what we're talking about for the auto industry. One insurance company -- one -- that has made huge mistakes, AIG, has gotten $150 billion from this administration, and yet they're not willing to use that fund, which has supplied a significant amount, by the way, to support that AIG loan, they are not willing to provide this $25 billion. That's where the major responsibility would lie in my belief. However, this delay does create risks."