Expediting Assistance for Auto Workers
By Paul Ryan, Representing Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 7321, “The Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act” by a vote of 237 – 170. As of today, H.R. 7321 is currently pending before the U.S. Senate, where its prospects for passage remain uncertain.
It is clear that the mounting hardships throughout Southern Wisconsin have been downright gut-wrenching. In addition to the imminent closure of the GM plant in my hometown of Janesville and mass layoffs elsewhere – including news this week that Bombardier will cut nearly 100 jobs in Sturtevant, hard-working Wisconsinites are finding it increasingly difficult during this recession to cope with strained credit markets, rising health care costs, and making their monthly mortgage payments.
The American automotive industry is under considerable distress, and various proposals have been put forth to provide aid to those in need. I’ve maintained that any assistance to the domestic auto industry should be drawn from previously approved funds from a U.S. Department of Energy loan package, rather than divert resources from the financial rescue package or rely on additional taxpayer dollars. H.R. 7321 cuts through the bureaucratic red tape and expedites these previously appropriated funds. Because no additional taxpayer dollars were appropriated, I was able to support this legislation.
At the forefront of my mind are jobs in Southern Wisconsin and the retiree commitments to workers that could be placed in jeopardy under certain bankruptcy scenarios. To be clear, this bill is not intended to save the American auto industry and makes no guarantees that layoffs in this industry will end. Congress must stop overselling what it can do. At the very least, I am hopeful that by extending these loans to the American auto manufacturers, bankruptcy will be avoided in the near term and protections for retirees will remain intact.