Tennessee Senator Bob Corker told Tennessee reporters in a conference call today "we were that close" to reaching a deal to rescue automotive giants General Motors, Ford and Chrsyler.
The hold up, according to Corker, is that United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger believes that the White House will "come to the rescue" and use $15 billion in TARP funds controlled by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to assist the companies.
"TARP" stands for "Troubled Assets Relief Program" and is money that was allocated as part of the recent federal banking bailout, or rescue plan, depending on who you ask.
Corker said that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was prepared to push through a vote last night that "probably would have had 90 votes" in support and would likely be law today if the UAW had signed off on the deal.
Known as the "Corker plan" in Washington, the deal would have addressed four areas of the automakers' economic woes, including debt load reduction, wage cost and work rule competitiveness and the elimination of various unemployment benefits.
"As long as the UAW believes that the administration will ride to the rescue," Corker said before pausing a bit and then adding, "sobering things can happen over the weekend."
Corker said he is drafting a letter to Paulson asking the Treasury Secretary to put stipulations on TARP money if they decide to use it for the automakers. It is Corker's hope that all if not most of the stipulations he had in his plan be in anything approved by the administration.