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Bailout Bill Corked

From the diaries. Multiple sources reporting that the bailout officially fell 8 votes short of cloture.

On the Fox News Channel today, Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) essentially endorsed the Corker Amendment while conceding that the current bailout bill did not have the 60 votes required for cloture to end the Republican filibuster of the $15B compromise bill. He suggested that after cloture fails, he would advocate adoption of the Corker Amendment.

Minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) just praised the the junior senator from the Volunteer State for one of the most profound legislative impacts in history.

Six days ago I posted The Corker Challenge on Live Wire which, in pertinent part, stated the following:

Senator Corker (pictured above) of Tennessee has proposed an interesting challenge for GM, which he stated in open session yesterday. He’d like General Motors to agree to a strict set of cost-cutting measures before the end of the first quarter of 2009. If GM fail to meet the objectives, they agree upfront to go bankrupt at the end of March.

What this means is that GM will need to extract a large set of painful concessions from a diverse set of stakeholders, including their bondholders, suppliers, dealers and workers.

Senator Bob Corker’s challenge has won the day, even if rejected.

The Minority Leader:

“Senator Corker has proposed an amendment that would go a long way toward improving this bill. In keeping with the principles I’ve outlined, the Corker Amendment does not just encourage reform, it requires it. And it does so with crucial specificity. First, participating companies would be required to reduce their outstanding debt by at least two-thirds through an equity swap with bondholders.

“The Corker Amendment also requires that labor costs at participating companies be brought on par with companies like Nissan, Toyota, and Honda — not tomorrow but immediately — because it is delusional to think that a company which spends $71 per labor hour could compete with a company in the same industry that spends $49.

“The Corker Amendment would improve the liquidity and cash-flow of automakers by requiring that a portion of the payments made to union accounts consist of company stock.

“And finally, the Corker Amendment would require participating companies to file for Chapter 11 reorganization if any of these conditions aren’t met by a fixed date.

“The Corker Amendment forces necessary reforms, holds companies accountable, and assures taxpayers that these companies won’t be back for more. If legislative action were necessary, the Corker proposal would make many much needed and dramatic improvements to the underlying bill.

“I, like all of my colleagues, want the U.S. auto industry not only to survive but to thrive. And by cutting costs, streamlining production, increasing fuel efficiency, and investing in new technologies and attractive, more competitive designs, American auto companies will once again make cars that people all over the world will want to buy. Then Americans will be able to say again with pride that our cars are the best.

“In addition protecting the taxpayer, this is a goal that Republicans have been fighting hard for in this debate. And in my view, it’s a goal that is well worth our efforts.”

It appears that Democrats will not accept this amendment. That’s too bad.

Senator Corker is a conservative hero. He would not give Detroit a blank check.

Updates to follow. Compromise may still occur.

Mike DeVine’s Charlotte Observer, Examiner.com and Minority Report columns

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson

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