To meet the debt condition, the auto companies must negotiate with bondholders. To meet the health care condition, they need the approval of the UAW. Analysts say that both issues are likely major sticking points in the companies' negotiations and both auto companies told ABC News that, as of yesterday afternoon, they were still in talks with their stakeholders.
"It's a drama that is almost inevitable," said David Cole, the chairman for the Center of Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Both conditions, Cole explained, involve stock. In the case of the automakers' debts, bondholders would have to agree to accept company stock in place of debt payments. In case of the UAW retiree health care program, the union would have to agree to accept half-stock, half-cash payments instead of all-cash payments to fund the program.
Concern about the depreciation of auto stock is weighing heavily, analysts said.
"If the value of the assets are going down more then planned, all of a sudden they can't pay hospital bills for retirees," said Craig Fitzgerald, an auto analyst at Plante & Moran PLLC in Southfield, Mich.
Bondholders in particular, Fitzgerald said, may decide against agreeing to the government's conditions and instead hope the government will continue to provide aid to the automakers even if the debt requirement isn't met.
If the automakers don't succeed in meeting all the government's requirements by today, that doesn't necessarily mean they're out of time. UAW legislative director Alan Reuther told the Washington Post that the government's loan terms allow until March 31 for any labor agreements to be made final.
"There does not have to be any agreement by February, as far as we're concerned," he told the paper. "We think the loan agreement requires the companies (today) to come forward with their view on a reorganization plan."
As uncertainty hung over the automakers' negotiations, the government's plans to oversee the automakers' recovery came into focus, albeit in an unexpected way: While the Bush administration had envisioned a single "car czar" to oversee the restructuring of the auto industry, the Obama administration yesterday instead announced the creation of a "Presidential Task Force on Autos."
The task force will include some now familiar government faces -- it will be headed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council director Larry Summers -- as well as a less familiar one: Ron Bloom.
Bloom, a restructuring expert, has worked with both unions and Wall Street: He advises the United Steelworkers Union and, in the 1980s, served as a vice president at the investment bank Lazard Freres.
"He's been effective in dealing with both labor issues and financial issues," Cole said, "so he's the kind of person you'd like to see in the middle of this delicate discussion."
With reports from ABC News' Brian Wheeler.