Senate Passes Auto Retooling Program to Create Jobs & Develop Alternative Energy Vehicles
Sen. Stabenow Plays Key Role in Authoring Legislation
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced Senate passage of legislation calling for $25 billion in low-interest loans to automobile manufacturers for retooling older factories. The Advanced Technology Vehicle Incentives program, authored by Senator Stabenow, will allow automakers to produce the next generation of vehicles here at home. This provision is designed to revitalize the economy and comes at a time when Michigan's unemployment rate leads the nation at 8.9%. The program passed as part of the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act of 2009, also called the continuing resolution on the budget.
"At a critical time in our nation's economy, these loans to our auto industry will help create good-paying jobs right here at home," said Stabenow. "The program also provides the support the industry needs to compete in the race to create the next generation of automobiles to free us from our dependence on foreign oil," she continued.
The retooling provision instructs the Department of Treasury to provide up to $25 billion in low-interest loans to American automakers to finance the retooling of existing manufacturing facilities. These facilities can then be utilized to produce the next generation of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.
Senator Stabenow has been a strong advocate for federal investment in both advanced technology development and the retooling necessary to produce such advanced technology vehicles. The retooling program was originally authored by Senator Stabenow in March of last year and passed as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. This provision was also included in Senator Stabenow's Green Collar Jobs Initiative, which was included in the Congressional Budget Resolution in June 2008. The legislation will now go to President Bush for his signature.
Since President Bush took office in 2001, over 3.8 million manufacturing jobs have been lost. Michigan has lost over 278,000 manufacturing jobs in that same period as the unemployment rate has climbed from 4.7% to 8.9%.
Other major provisions in the Continuing Resolution include:
Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP): $2.5 billion above the 2008 enacted level to help families pay rising home energy bills, helping an additional two million households and raising the average grant from $355 to $550. With this increase in national funding, Michigan would receive approximately $67 million in additional LIHEAP funding. In 2008, Michigan has provided over 526,300 households with LIHEAP financial assistance.
Disaster Relief Fund: $7.9 billion to ensure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has sufficient funding to assist communities after the recent disasters and to ensure that they have the resources necessary to respond to future disasters. This summer, Michigan experienced three confirmed tornadoes, straight-line winds in excess of 70 miles per hour, and more than 11 inches of rain in some areas. Six people were killed, homes were destroyed, and emergency resources were exhausted.
Pell Grants: $2.5 billion above the 2008 enacted level to prevent cuts to student aid midway through the year. In the 2006-2007 school year, over 190,000 students received approximately $440 million in Federal Pell Grants in Michigan.
Community Development Block Grants: $6.5 billion to provide communities with flexible grants for recovery measures, including providing temporary housing, repairing and replacing damaged homes and public infrastructure, and economic development.