The auto suppliers, which had received a $5 billion loan support program earlier in the year, wanted the government to guarantee $8 billion-$10 billion in loans so banks will lend money to auto suppliers. De Koker reported that the administration felt that, if it saw a chaotic or disorderly situation such as assembly lines shut down by lack of parts, it would look at the situation again.
Congress may prove more promising. On June 17, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced a new bill that would create a $30 billion loan program to help auto suppliers and other small to medium manufacturers retool for the clean energy industry. It would expand the existing Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), adding support for a transition to the clean energy economy.
Sen. Brown’s press statement cited a survey showing that more than 70% of manufacturers see difficulty in gaining credit to buy materials and rehire workers as business conditions improve. His Investments for Manufacturing Progress & Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act of 2009 provides that states would receive funds to establish revolving loan programs for small to medium firms to expand or start domestic clean energy manufacturing operations and to improve energy efficiency.
The Impact bill’s cosponsor, Sen. Debbie Strabenow (D-MI), said dedicated funding is essential to allow the manufacturing sector to meet the demand created by the cap-and-trade program. At least 20 trade groups, associations, and unions announced active support for the bill as well. —[email protected]