U.S. Rep. Tom Udall voted for a $14 billion bailout for American automobile companies Wednesday evening, while U.S. Reps. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce voted against it.
The bill was approved on a vote of 237-170 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Interestingly, Udall, a Democrat, joined the Republican Pearce in voting against the $700 billion financial bailout earlier this year, while the GOP’s Wilson voted for that bailout bill.
In explaining today’s vote, Udall said the bill will prevent the collapse of the American automobile industry. He said such a collapse would cost an estimated 10,500 jobs in New Mexico — or 1.4 percent of the state’s total work force — that pay a combined $58.5 million in wages each year.
“Today, the House decided whether or not to let two of America’s largest companies collapse and take thousands of New Mexico jobs with them,” Udall said in a news release. “I voted to protect American workers, to reform the auto industry and to produce millions of cleaner, greener cars.”
Wilson, meanwhile, said in a statement that she voted against the bill because it “adds another level of government bureaucracy. It does this without providing sufficient guarantees that the auto manufacturers will follow their promises to restructure their company’s business practices and contractual obligations.”
“Nothing in this legislation is sufficient to prevent these companies from demanding another bailout several months down road,” Wilson said. “Congress should support legislation that protects the American manufacturing jobs without harming the taxpayer.”
The bill doesn’t appropriate any new money for the bailout. Instead, according to The Associated Press, it redirects funds already set aside to help carmakers make changes in their factories that are necessary to build more fuel-efficient automobiles. The bill would almost immediately provide cash to General Motors and Chrysler. Ford would also be eligible for money.
There’s no certainty the bill will pass the Senate, but if it does, the president is expected to sign it. Many senators — most Republicans — have already voiced their opposition to the bill.
Udall, who is joining the Senate next year, said the bill contains oversight and strong checks on use of the money.
“This legislation does not spend one additional taxpayer dollar. These funds were previously appropriated to modernize the auto industry,” he said. “More importantly, the bill provides increased oversight to ensure that taxpayer dollars help American workers and drivers, not stockholders or executives. It mandates that our money will not be spent on executive salaries, dividends or corporate jets. It institutes unprecedented controls to protect the people’s money from misuse. Most importantly, it ensures that Detroit can no longer continue with business as usual.”
Pearce did not release a statement following today’s vote.