The White House called for stronger requirements to ensure that loans would only go to companies that can prove they are viable. It also called on Congress to strip the provision from the bill that would require automakers to notify the government of every $25 million or more transaction, as well as to strip a provision that would ban automaker lawsuits against state-imposed regulations.
But even if hurdles are cleared between Congress and the White House, getting enough votes to pass the measure still won't be easy. Neither Senate Republicans nor House Republicans have been involved in crafting the bill. The effort will likely be tougher in the Senate, where the bill will need the support of at least 14 Republicans, probably more, to reach the filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes.
Even Republicans in the Senate who have fought for the auto industry bailout are concerned with the Democrats' plan.
"One of my concerns is that this bill doesn't go far enough to secure viability plans from the auto companies that would best ensure that the money will be paid back to the taxpayers," said Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, in a Tuesday statement. "I am also concerned with other provisions that could hurt the auto industry in the long run. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the White House to address those concerns."
Voinovich said he still hopes to have a vote this week.
Reid predicted that he and the Republican Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell would sequester themselves in room as soon as there is agreement between the White House and Congressional Democrats and figure out how to work toward a vote.
According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, 54 percent of those surveyed oppose giving automakers up to $34 billion in federal loans, while 37 percent support it.
During the past week, automakers have repeatedly made the case to lawmakers and U.S. taxpayers to explain why they need a loan.
"We know some Americans have questioned why the federal government should assist the auto industry, specifically when so many other sectors of the economy appear to be at serious risk, too," GM stated in an ad in Automotive News. "The answer is because we have already lost a number of industries that spin raw materials into finished products that can be purchased by the citizens of this nation and, just as importantly, those of other nations.
"A healthy manufacturing base generating exports is critical to the economy and national security of the United States. The auto industry is the backbone of this country's manufacturing base. This is why we need to borrow money from U.S. taxpayers," Wagoner argued in the ad.
James Fleming, president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association, likewise told senators on Capitol Hill last week that failures at the Big Three automakers would be devastating for small businesses because it's difficult for a dealer to get people financed for cars when banks are hesitant to give them money.
"To our people, to these small-business people, it is a tsunami, it is not a ripple," Fleming said.
Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli also posted a message to employees Monday.
"Assuming the receipt of the bridge loan, concessions from all Chrysler's major constituencies and our continued restructuring and transformation, Chrysler would manage through the current economic downturn and generate adequate cash to begin repayment of the loan in 2012," he wrote.