The U.S. House of Representatives voted late Wednesday to pass the Auto Rescue/Bailout Bill by a vote of 237 to 170. The contents of the bill came from concessions made by Congressional Democrats to White House demand, which include $14 billion in government loans, $1 billion less than was previously discussed, and the creation of a "Car Czar" appointed by the president to oversee the automakers' progress. It is widely recognized that the bill is a stop-gap measure meant to float General Motors and Chrysler through the end of March. This would give them time to renegotiate with its creditors, the UAW and other companies. If all goes well, the status of GM and Chrysler will be reviewed around March 31st to determine if further federal assistance is required, which it likely would be unless the economy magically recovers and people start buying new vehicles again in larger numbers.

In order to get the bill passed, Congressional Democrats gave in to the administration's demand for strict oversight, including broad powers for the Car Czar to pull back the money if he/she determines that automakers aren't on track and dropping a provision that automakers must agree to end their support of lawsuits against states that have chosen to adopt emissions standards set by the California Air Resources Board that are stricter than federal standards.

Though the bill appears to have passed through the House with ease, the case for assisting Detroit with federal funds will receive much more resistance in the Senate where Democrats are not expected to have the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster by opposing Republicans. Led by Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala), the Republican opposition may have enough votes to indefinitely stall or outright block the bill's passage. The White House spent Wednesday among its Republican colleagues in the Senate trying to shore up support for the bill, but no one is certain what the bill's chances are of passing. The showdown between Senate Republicans and the fate of U.S. automakers is scheduled for a vote either late Saturday or early Sunday. Stay tuned.

[Source: CNN Money]

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