Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who announced he would not allow a vote on Wednesday on the proposed $15 billion in loans to the Big Three automakers, laid out a set of "Republican criteria" for the legislation.
"We will not let taxpayers spend their hard-earned money on ailing carmakers unless these companies are forced to reform their bad habits—either inside or outside of bankruptcy," the Republican from Kentucky said from the Senate floor. "This means that workers won't be paid not to work. This means a final bill would not interfere with pending environmental lawsuits in a one-sided manner. And it means that struggling car companies will have to rationalize their cost structures—because a company that does not respond to market conditions is a company that is doomed to failure anyway."
McConnell added, "Republicans will not allow taxpayers to subsidize failure. As I've said repeatedly, my Republican colleagues and I want to put struggling carmakers on a path to long-term success. But we cannot support a plan that doesn't."
With respect to environmental litigation, McConnell has been critical of the measure's requirement that automakers drop legal challenges to state fuel-economy standards that are tougher than the federal standard.
The senator complained that he was told of a White House agreement with congressional Democrats Tuesday night but had not seen a final version of the bill Wednesday morning.
He said GOP lawmakers would discuss the merits of the latest proposal at a policy lunch Wednesday and said he expects to have substantive thoughts about its chances of support within his conference afterward. "We will address this issue before the end of the week," he added.