White House, Dems Reach Tentative Auto Bailout Deal

The White House and Democratic congressional leaders reached a tentative deal on an emergency loan program for the auto industry, FOX News learned on Tuesday.

Both the White House and congressional Democrats were putting the finishing touches on the $15 billion bill late in the evening, but the bill could still face obstacles from congressional Republicans, who have not given their seal of approval.

The House is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, when the bailout bill could come to a vote, but the Majority Leader's office said it is unclear when it may be considered.

The plan creates a government "car czar," to be named by President Bush, to oversee the bailout billions and an auto industry restructuring. The czar would have the ability to yank back the federal funds if carmakers don't do enough to reinvent themselves.

"We've had very productive discussions about legislation consistent with the president's principles," said Joel Kaplan, Bush's domestic policy adviser, emerging from an evening meeting with congressional aides where they were hammering out legislative language.

The White House had been demanding that Democrats scrap language that would force the carmakers to drop lawsuits challenging tough emissions limits in California and other states.

That measure "kills the deal," Dan Meyer, Bush's top lobbyist, said earlier in the evening. It was unclear what side budged to reach an agreement.