Hoyer Claims Gov’t Not Trying to Control Automakers with Bailout; Critics Disagree

By Josiah Ryan | December 10, 2008 | 6:03 PM EST

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) (Photo courtesy of Hoyer's Web site)

(CNSNews.com) - The $14 billion automotive industry bailout, which was introduced in the House on Wednesday after days of negotiation between Democratic congressional leaders and the White House, does not aim to exercise control over automotive manufacturers, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told CNSNews.com.
But Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and an official government summary of the bill suggest that the legislation would grant a White House appointee significant authority over how companies that accept bailout money must operate.
“The bill doesn’t aim for that end,” Hoyer told CNSNews.com on Wednesday when asked if he thought the government should control automakers and their production, car design, and salaries.
“What it does do is give a loan, and it gives certain parameters for that money to be protected and directed at making the companies viable,” said Hoyer. “But it doesn’t contemplate us managing them.”
Yet Hoyer implied that the plan will give the federal government some control over the industry.

“The plan is going to say how they are going to operate that will make them viable in the long term,” said Hoyer.
According to an official summary, the bill would grant President Bush the authority to appoint a “car czar,” who would administer $14 billion in bridge loans to the Big Three domestic automakers Ford, Chrysler and GM, and enforce those “parameters” to which Hoyer referred.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)

Those parameters, according to the text of the bill, include barring bonuses or incentives for the 25 highest paid employees in each company, eliminating company use of private passenger aircraft, and forcing automakers to satisfy the “car czar” that their restructuring plans “comply with applicable fuel efficiency and emission standards.”
Gohmert, who was speaking at a press conference at the Capitol Wednesday, told CNSNews.com that he thinks the bill allows the government to exercise control over the auto industry.
“I am concerned,” Gohmert told CNSNews.com. “It provides for a car czar. Have you seen how bad the bureaucracy in D.C. is? Can you imagine converting that into a vehicle? That’s a car that would go nowhere. We have no business having a car czar.”
Meanwhile, the legislation’s biggest challenge lies in the Senate where rules allow a minority to block a piece of legislation. Conservative senators say they are gearing up to stop or alter the bill.
“I will use every procedural tool available to demand an amendment process on the floor of the Senate and to delay and block the measure as it presently stands,” Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) told CNSNews.com on Wednesday.