SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Fourteen billion dollars in low interest loans is set to be distributed immediately to GM and Chrysler - if it's signed into law. It's passed the U.S. House of Representatives. But today (Thursday), the Senate offered opposition - in the form of Louisiana Senator David Vitter. "I think that is putting the cart before the horse, and isn't responsible in terms of tax payer dollars," said Vitter.
Several weeks ago, both republicans and democrats told the automotive industry if you want the money, you have to give us a detailed restructuring plan. It's a plan that hasn't been realized to date. "We need to see the commitment to bring labor costs to be competitive with folks like Toyota and Honda, we need to see the commitment," says Vitter. "The senators position is one that I don't understand, I have no appreciation for it," said Shreveport Mayor, Cedric Glover, who has recently returned from Washington D.C. where he lobbied for the plan.
Local leaders concerned with the Shreveport GM plant say thousands of jobs on the line in Louisiana. "Not counting the 22 percent of tax revenue in automobile sales," said City Councilman, Ron Webb whose district covers the GM Plant.
Senator Vitter offers an alternative to the fourteen billion. "One proposal by Senator Bob Corker would require that these companies reduce their outstanding debt by 2/3 and they bring their labor costs and work rules more in line with companies like Toyota, Nissan and Honda to make themselves more competitive," Vitter wrote in an email to News 12. The provisions include changes to union payments as well. "I'll be talking to the other mayors around the country and senators that we worked with to help push this to get thier reaction to see if those are revisions we can live with," says Mayor Glover. For many, at this point living with a solution appears to be better than doing nothing at all. But Vitter insists he's not in favor of doing nothing at all, which is why he's pushing for alternatives to a plan he calls backward.