While the U.S. banking industry is still waiting for Congress to give it a $700 billion hand, President Bush signed into law last night the spending bill that gives U.S. automakers $25 billion in loans to get their collective act together.

But unlike when a bank deems you worthy of their money, the Big Three won't be getting any cash for some time. Despite the companys' CEOs saying repeatedly how they were desperate for help and how automotive life as they know it would end if they didn't get financial help, there's at least a 60-day delay until they can cash this check.

Written into the bill is a clause requiring the Energy Department to come up with regulations that will determine who gets what and when. The agency has 60 days to do this, but could take much longer, as much as 18 months according to a department spokesperson.

Desperate or not, looks like GM, Ford and Chrysler are now at the mercy of the Energy Department.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]