Big 3 Bailout Hits a Snag

Harry Reid said this morning that the Senate may vote as early as tonight on legislation to bail out the Big 3:

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) expressed optimism Tuesday morning that votes on an automotive rescue plan could come as early as tonight or sometime Wednesday as Congressional Democrats and the White House try to work through the details of a deal.

But that was before word that a Republican Senator may block the measure from coming to the floor through a ‘hold:’

A $15 billion auto industry bailout bill could be derailed in the Senate, where at least one Republican has vowed to place a hold on the legislation, a move that could kill the prospects of passage this week.

A Republican Senator, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that short of significant changes to the deal, he would place a hold on the legislation.

“It only takes one of us, and as it currently stands I’m prepared to hold it. Some major changes need to happen to that bill before it can go through,” the lawmaker said…

“If you want a bill to pass, you don’t bring a bill that was only written by the Democrats. We weren’t at the White House. In the House you don’t need to [direct participation of lawmakers], in the Senate you do. I have to represent what I think is right and what is good for my constituents,” the lawmaker said.

Mitch McConnell also took to the Senate floor today to express his objections to the approach taken by Senate Democrats:

“Any successful proposal would force companies to reform, either inside of bankruptcy or outside of bankruptcy. Without that mandate, there can be no real expectation of reform.

“A good proposal would force automakers to get control of their benefit costs.

“A good proposal would make wages at struggling companies competitive with other automakers — not tomorrow, but today.

“A good proposal would end the practice of paying workers who don’t work.

“And a good proposal would rationalize dealer networks. Just as struggling airlines adjust their capacity to respond to market conditions, automakers must respond to market demands as well.

If this legislation is held up beyond this week, it may be impossible for the Senate to act before one or more of the Big 3 runs out of money.