Lawmakers Fight to Keep Car Dealers Open

Car dealerships could soon become the kind of political cause military bases were just a few years ago.

U.S. lawmakers are battling to prevent hundreds of General Motors and Chrysler dealerships in their districts from closing -- a struggle similar to past fights among lawmakers to prevent military facilities in their states from shutting down.

As top auto executives announced plans to close nearly 2,000 dealerships before a Senate committee Wednesday, lawmakers voiced strong opposition to the move -- arguing the closures put over 100,000 jobs at risk and do little to offer savings to GM or Chrysler.

"I see no winners from government-imposed decisions to end new car dealer franchises," Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., told Wednesday. "It won't help Chrysler become more viable to cut their primary revenue source."

Bartlett, who rallied with members of the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association Tuesday to protest the closings, said they will eliminate "more than 100,000 jobs at profitable independent dealers" and will "raise costs for consumers."

The chiefs of General Motors and Chrysler told Congress Wednesday they have too many dealers to support their slimmed down operations and sacrifices must be shared as they fight to overcome bankruptcy and survive -- though they acknowledged that slashing dealerships is causing pain in communities around the country.

GM is aiming for "fewer, stronger brands as well as fewer, stronger dealers," GM President Fritz Henderson said in testimony prepared for the Senate Commerce Committee. "These are tough times for everyone in the GM family."

Click here for more from