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Pelosi Says Auto Deal Is Imminent

Updated: 6:39 p.m.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday evening that negotiations are continuing on the $15 billion auto industry rescue package, and to expect a final deal in the coming hours.

But Pelosi warned that “it may take more than $15 billion” to stabilize the auto manufacturers through the target date of March 31.

Still, the Speaker said there is “not going to be an endless flow of money.” If automakers fail to restructure as required by Congress, Pelosi said, “we may want our money back sooner than March 31.”

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said it will be up to Congress and President-elect Barack Obama to decide in February whether to revoke funds from the automakers.

Congressional leaders sent draft legislation to the White House earlier Monday. While some issues still need to be worked out — White House sources have raised concerns over language relating to long-term financing — Frank said he doesn’t think there is “a substantive disagreement” on the proposal.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that progress has been made and that “we’re reviewing draft legislation we received this afternoon and are continuing our discussions with Congress.”

“Long-term financing must be conditioned on the principle that taxpayers should only assist automakers executing a credible plan for long-term viability,” Perino said. “We’ll continue to work with Members on both sides of the aisle to achieve legislation that protects the good-faith investment by taxpayers.”

Another provision still being worked out relates to oversight of the bailout and whether an individual, a panel of officers or both would oversee the program. President George W. Bush is expected to appoint a supervisor, but it remains unclear whether that person would change with the incoming administration.

“I guess it depends on who it is,” Pelosi said. “But hopefully not.”

Frank said it is “likely” that the person chosen to supervise the bailout will be a current administration official.

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