To Obama by Christmas?
The goal is to have both the House and Senate approve the final spending measure, with the dealer amendment attached, and send it to President Barack Obama by Christmas recess, a House aide said.
On Friday, GM and Chrysler outlined plans for rejected dealerships and broke off settlement talks intended as an alternative to legislation.
The automakers' arbitration criteria rely on each company's original business standards in marking dealerships for elimination.
GM said arbitrators “will expressly be limited to whether GM selected the dealer to receive the wind-down agreement on the basis of its business criteria.”
Chrysler Vice President Peter Grady said the company would apply the same criteria used to make the initial dealer cuts to determine whether any closures were “arbitrary or capricious.”
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne today declined to comment on the legislation but defended the company's plan.
"It's incredibly equitable," he told a Peterson Institute for International Economics luncheon in Washington. "It's a fair solution to what has been a thorny issue."
He described the GM and Chrysler plans as "absolutely consistent."
Dealer advocates have criticized the automakers' criteria as circular and self-fulfilling and guaranteed to ensure that few franchises will be restored.
Chrysler shuttered 789 stores during bankruptcy proceedings last May. GM targeted 1,350 outlets for elimination by October 2010.
Top Dems support bill
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., assistant to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, led the drafting of the new bill, a congressional aide said.
“The revisions reflect the goals pursued by NADA for the past several months on dealer rights,” NADA said in a statement.
NADA worked with House staff this weekend on crafting the new measure, Hyatt said.
Tammy Darvish, a leader of a group of rejected dealerships, said: “We want to get dealers back in business, and this appears to be our best chance to capitalize on the efforts of our congressional leaders and all dealers across America.”
She urged members today to lobby their senators for the new bill.
GM and Chrysler spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The bill drafted this weekend represents a revision of the original legislation that would have reversed all dealer terminations. It passed the House but stalled in the Senate. Senate leaders have been cool to the changes sought by dealer groups.