Faced with staggering new unemployment figures, Democratic Congressional leaders said on Friday that they were ready to provide a short-term rescue plan for American automakers, and that they expected to hold a vote on the legislation in a special session next week.
Seeking to end a weeks-long stalemate between the Bush administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, senior Congressional aides said that the money would most likely come from $25 billion in federally subsidized loans intended for developing fuel-efficient cars.
By breaking that impasse, the lawmakers could also clear the way for the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., to request the remaining $350 billion of the financial industry bailout fund knowing he will not get bogged down in a fight over aiding Detroit.
Democrats are hoping Mr. Paulson will use some of that money to help individual homeowners avoid foreclosure.
The short-term plan is intended to help the automakers survive until the new administration takes over in January and can craft a longer-term solution to the industry’s troubles.
President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team have been working with Congressional leaders on both counts. Ms. Pelosi spoke to Mr. Obama on Thursday, and to Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, twice on Friday.
Ms. Pelosi also spoke by phone on Friday with Joshua B. Bolten, President Bush’s chief of staff, and the White House, too, seemed ready to reach a deal.
“We’re continuing to talk to both parties and both houses of Congress, and we hope to make more progress this weekend,” said Tony Fratto, the White House deputy press secretary.
Details of the auto companies’ rescue package were not immediately available, but senior Congressional aides said that it would include billions of dollars in short-term loans to keep the automakers afloat at least until Mr. Obama takes office.
The auto companies will have to submit to strict government oversight to make sure that the bailout funds are used to carry out the reorganization plans they delivered to Congress this week. The auto company chiefs testified this week that they were willing to accept such regulation.
Ms. Pelosi had resisted using money from the fuel-efficiency program, which was approved as part of an energy bill last year, and Democrats had repeatedly called on the Bush administration or the Federal Reserve to act unilaterally, using existing authority, to aid the auto companies.