11 Dec 2008

US House approves car industry bailout

4:36 pm on 11 December 2008

The US House of Representatives has approved a $US15 billion bailout of the American car industry.

The vote came after the White House and leading Democrats reached broad agreement on the rescue package on Wednesday.

The measure could be held up for longer in the Senate, where the Democrats only have a majority of one and the bill may be subject to extensive amendment. In theory, Republicans there could still kill the measure.

General Motors and Chrysler say they risk ruin without immediate aid. Ford says it may need funds in the future.

President George W Bush is said to want strict conditions attached to any agreement to bail out the firms, including tough oversight for the three carmakers to ensure that the money is accompanied by sound financial recovery plans.

This follows criticism that the $US700 billion bailout of the financial sector was insufficiently detailed.

Under the proposal, the government is expected to take non-voting shares in General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. It is also expected to appoint of a "Car Tsar" to oversee the use of the money.

The three firms had been calling for $US34 billion between them, and their bosses recently went before Congress to put their case.

GM, Ford and Chrysler have all seen sales fall sharply this year in their home market.