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House Passes Auto Bailout Measure, Senate Passage Unlikely

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a measure to provide emergency funding to General Motors (GM) and Chrysler, but leading members of the Senate have indicated that the deal is not likely to pass or even come to a vote. The Associated Press reports that the House measure, which passed with 230-170 votes, would provide $14 billion in emergency loans to the two automakers - Ford has already said it does not need the emergency funding - and would require the appointment of a "car czar" to oversee restructuring plans that GM and Chrysler would have to submit by March 31; President George W. Bush would appoint the overseer but his administration would be expected to work with President-elect Barack Obama's team to reach mutual agreement. The deal also requires limits on executive compensation, a prohibition on paying dividends, and requirements that the government share in future profits; it also attaches an unrelated pay raise for federal judges. Senators opposed to the measure - most of whom but not all are Republican - say they will filibuster it to prevent a vote, opposed to the power of the car czar and to the fact that it does not require GM and Chrysler to provide plans for spending the emergency funding. Senate debates are expected to begin today. If the measure does not pass, it is still possible that an executive branch order could provide the emergency funding until the new presidential administration and Congress are sworn in.

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