Friday, December 12, 2008
A US$14 billion bailout package deal for the “Big Three” United States automakers — Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors — has been rejected in the United States Senate after failing a procedural vote.
The bill was rejected after bipartisan discussions on the bailout broke down when Republican Party leaders insisted that the United Auto Workers (UAW) union agree to increase wage cuts by next year in order to bring their pay into line with those of Japanese automobile companies in the United States. The UAW refused to meet the demands.
The final vote count in the Senate was 52-35, eight short of the 60 needed to pass. Only ten Republicans joined forty Democrats and two independents in voting for the bill. Three Democrats voted with thirty-one Republicans against it.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said that he was “terribly disappointed” by the failure of the bill to pass. “I dread looking at Wall Street tomorrow. It’s not going to be a pleasant sight,” Reid said. “Millions of Americans, not only the auto workers but people who sell cars, car dealerships, people who work on cars are going to be directly impacted and affected.”
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Republican Senator Bob Corker was also unhappy about the rejection. “We were about three words away from a deal. We solved everything substantively and about three words keep us from reaching a conclusion,” he said.
Some Democrats now want U.S. President Bush to reserve a portion of the $700 billion bailout package earmarked for Wall Street to assist the flagging car industry.
Stock markets worldwide fell dramatically on the news, with Japan’s Nikkei average losing 484.68 points, or 5.6 percent, reaching a level of 8253.87 points. Shares in the auto companies Toyota, Nissan and Honda all dropped by no less than 10 percent apiece. European stocks, such as those in the United Kingdom and Germany, also lost ground, with the FTSE-100 index of leading shares falling 176.3 points to a level of 4,211 at midday.