The potential collapse of the auto industry would be "a disaster" amid today's economic crisis, President-elect Barack Obama told CBS' "60 Minutes" in a wide-ranging interview airing Sunday.
"It's my belief that we need to provide assistance to the auto industry," Obama said. "But I think that it can't be a blank check."
The Senate is expected to vote this week on emergency loans to the auto industry, but the measure is facing strong opposition from many Republicans.
The Democrats plan is to authorize loans to the auto industry from the Treasury Department's $700 billion fund to bail out the financial services industry.
Detroit auto executives are scheduled to plead their case in public hearings in the House and Senate.
Obama, meanwhile, is also eager to use the automakers plight to push plans for a new generation of “green” vehicles using alternative technologies. There likely will be a tradeoff for any help the car companies receive.
"My hope is that over the course of the next week, between the White House and Congress, the discussions are shaped around providing assistance but making sure that that assistance is conditioned on labor, management, suppliers, lenders, all of the stakeholders coming together with a plan — what does a sustainable U.S. auto industry look like?
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