Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Panel to Hold Hearing on Auto Bailout in Detroit

Monday, July 20, 2009

Panel to hold hearing on auto bailout

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington-- A congressionally appointed panel overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program will hold a hearing in Detroit next Monday looking into the Treasury Department's bailout of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, a spokesman for the panel said.

The July 27 hearing will be held at 10 a.m. at Wayne State University and is expected to include the White House's top auto adviser, Ron Bloom, and a top executive at both GM and Chrysler -- but not the CEOs.

A congressional aide said the panel plans to "explore TARP aid to the auto industry, as well as the bankruptcy process and treatment of creditors in general. The (committee) intends to invite Ron Bloom, the CFOs of Chrysler and GM, and auto industry experts to testify," the aide said. The companies are likely to substitute another high-ranking executive in place of the chief financial officers. On Monday, a spokesman for the congressional oversight panel said it was still finalizing the witness list.

The Treasury Department has used about $65 billion to support the restructuring of GM and Chrysler, including loaning GM about $50 billion. Including loans to GMAC and auto suppliers, the amount is more than $80 billion from the rescue fund to boost the auto industry.

This is the first hearing from the panel devoted to the support of the auto industry. In December, then-President George W. Bush agreed to loan $17.4 billion to GM and Chrysler to help keep them afloat.

The Congressional Oversight Panel, which is chaired by Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, was created to oversee the expenditure of TARP funds authorized by Congress in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

The oversight panel members are Rep. Jeb Hensarling R-Texas; Richard H. Neiman, superintendent of banks for the State of New York; Damon Silvers, associate general counsel of the AFL-CIO; and former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu, R-N.H.

While they have made reference to automakers during hearings in passing, this is the first hearing devoted to the auto rescue. They held a similar field hearing in Greeley, Colo., on July 7 on farm credit.

dshepardson@detnews.com (202) 662-8735

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