White House, Congress nearing deal for automotive bailout

US President George W Bush and Congress are nearing a deal to soon approve a 15-billion-dollar bailout plan for the troubled automotive industry, the White House said Monday, according to dpa.

"Indications are that the legislation is moving more towards what the president could support," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, adding "it's very likely" the two sides will arrive at a proposal by the end of Monday.

The Senate and House of Representatives would have to approve the legislation before Bush signs it into law. Under the plan, the automakers could receive loans by December 15.

Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co and General Motors Corp have warned that without government help they could be forced to file for bankruptcy and lay off thousands of workers, further sending the economy into a tailspin.

The White House still needed to examine the final wording of the legislation, Perino said. The legislation would include establishing an advisor to oversee the use of the government money and to verify that the three automakers were retooling their long-term viability plans and carving out a more stable future.

The advisor would coordinate a long-term plan with the carmakers after they have received assistance, Perino said. More financial help would follow only if the advisor determines the companies are living up to their obligations and implementing the plans.

"If the viability advisor says that they're not making progress, then that company - the automaker - would have to pay the taxpayer back right away," Perino said. "So there's incentive for everybody to work hard to make this work."

Bush would appoint the advisor, and president-elect Barack Obama could replace the individual after he takes office January 20. Obama over the weekend voiced support for the plan but criticized the companies for their lack of vision and interest only in short-term gains.

The CEOs for Chrysler, Ford and General Motors appeared before Congress last week to request a combined 34 billion dollars in assistance, arguing the money was essential to survive in an economic recession.

Congress required the executives to submit recovery plans before any financial would be considered. The CEOs pledged to revamp business models, cut wages and speed up the roll-out of more fuel- efficient vehicles.

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