Statement by Senator Mark Pryor On Auto Industry Financing
Senator Mark Pryor made the following statement today after voting in support of the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act. The bill provides up to $14 billion in bridge loans and lines of credit to domestic auto manufacturers in order to help them continue to operate in the near term. The bill uses funds that have already been allocated from the Energy Independence and Security Act. The President is required to designate at least one qualified individual to carry out the law.
I believe this plan offers not just a lifeline, but an opportunity for U.S. automakers to plan a path toward long-term survival. The Senate's failure to pass this legislation spells real danger to the livelihood of this American industry, including the jobs of 17,000 Arkansans who clock in at assembly lines, supply companies and dealerships across our state.
Business plans built on greed alone have dire consequences, and many believe that the "Big Three" auto companies deserve to fail. While I share this frustration, inaction is too much for our economy to shoulder at this time. The U.S. economy has lost more than 1.9 million jobs over the last year; 533,000 jobs in November alone. In addition to lost jobs and tax revenue from a failed auto industry, taxpayers will end up footing a costly bill for unemployment, welfare and health care benefits. Moreover, domestic automakers have played an important national security role, producing the employees and hardware that kept our American military dominant in World War II and the Persian Gulf wars. Our reliance on foreign oil is a telltale example of why we cannot become solely dependent upon other nations to manufacture basic, but necessary goods.
I support this bridge loan proposal because of the strong taxpayer protections and oversight attached, particularly the appointment of a car czar to oversee the automakers' long-term viability plans and revoke loan funding if a company is not reforming accordingly. Once again, Americans are being asked to put their faith in a struggling industry, but I am optimistic the elements in this bill are necessary to preserve jobs and a cornerstone American industry.