Auto Talks Revive in Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Democrats on Thursday revived prospects of an auto industry bailout as negotiations on a possible compromise with Republicans moved forward, Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in remarks on the floor that the Senate could vote later in the day on a bill to extend up to $14 billion in emergency loans to the industry that he speculated “would overwhelmingly pass the Senate.”

The House of Representatives passed its version of the legislation on Wednesday. But the Republican minority in the Senate appeared to have more than enough votes to stop the White House-backed legislation with a procedural roadblock.

Reid held out the possibility that negotiations toward a compromise could fail.

“Good faith negotiations are going on as we speak,” Reid said of efforts to quickly assist General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler LLC.

GM and Chrysler have warned they could collapse without immediate federal intervention. Auto sales have plummeted during the global economic slowdown.

By John Crawley and Thomas Ferraro
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney)