By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
In just a few weeks, a group backing legislation to stop General Motors and Chrysler from closing dealerships has gained steam, with over 100 dealers planning to stage protests in Washington next Monday and Tuesday. "We expect a big crowd. We have over 100 RSVPs from dealers, and we've had to find more and more rooms for people," said Jack Fitzgerald, a large East Coast dealer and cochairman of the Committee to Restore Dealer Rights. While the group is not expecting a total reversal of the closings, essentially endorsed by the administration as part of Detroit's restructuring and federal bailout, it does expect passage of legislation to restore dealer rights lost in the bailout.
"We have a tough road ahead and need your continued relentless support," said cochair Tammy Darvish, a Washington-area dealer and director of the National Automobile Dealers Association. "Remember, no rights, no franchises, and none of our futures can be protected if we do nothing." The goal of the legislation—H.R. 2743/S. 1304—is to restore the type of dealership rights companies had before the bailout, such as franchise agreements typically governed by state laws. There are 221 House cosponsors and 14 cosponsors in the Senate. "It's bipartisan, I might add," said Fitzgerald. The legislation could hit the House floor as early as next Wednesday.
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