House committee wants GM, Chrysler documents

A House committee asked the Obama administration Friday to release documents on the federal bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler Group, seeking more details on decisions that led to the auto industry bankruptcies.

"They negotiated, they reviewed and they approved every aspect of the Chrysler and General Motors reorganization," Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., said of the White House. "We don't know how the president's auto task force reached its conclusion."

The resolution, proposed by House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, underscored lingering resentment in Congress over the government's work to push GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy. The House approved legislation Thursday pressing GM and Chrysler to restore closed dealerships. Auto task force head Ron Bloom was scheduled to testify before a House panel next week as part of a two-day hearing.

The request to the White House, approved by the House Financial Services Committee on a voice vote, seeks information about the work of the Obama administration's auto task force, the billions in federal aid to GM and Chrysler and reductions in benefits to auto parts supplier Delphi Corp.'s workers and retirees.

Committee chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., said the resolution "does suffer from a certain selective memory approach," noting that the Bush administration provided the initial funding in late December to the companies. But he supported the request.

The resolution does not compel the White House to turn over the documents. It moves next to the full House for consideration.

The White House declined comment.

Lawmakers said many questions remained about how the president's auto task force reached its decisions on GM and Chrysler. They said it hurt many dealerships, workers and retirees.

"These decisions were implemented without the auto manufacturers or the task force presenting evidence publicly that these (dealer) closings would actually benefit the auto companies financially," said Rep. Dan Maffei, D-N.Y., who has pushed GM and Chrysler to restore shuttered dealerships.

Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in June and GM exited bankruptcy on July 10, helped by billions in federal aid. The government now owns nearly 61% of GM and 8% of Chrysler.

The bankruptcies required concessions from union workers, retirees, dealers and bondholders. The moves have brought loud protests from dealers, who have sought help in Congress to restore the companies' dealer networks.

GM is reducing its 6,000-dealer network by more than 2,000 by not renewing franchise agreements next year and winding down stores with outgoing brands such as Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Hummer. Chrysler cut 789 of its dealers as part of its restructuring plan, reducing its dealer count to about 2,400.

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