Lawmakers who have battled for months to keep General Motors Corp. alive said Monday’s bankruptcy filing will do just that — but not without cost.
In Michigan and elsewhere, members of Congress were awaiting word on which GM facilities will be among the 14 the company is expected to place on a list of closing or idled plants, costing tens of thousands of jobs.
“GM’s future now seems assured,” said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak. “But it’s coming at a real price for families and communities.”
Michigan is likely to be among the hardest hit, given the company’s concentration in the state. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, was given the list of affected plants in Michigan late Sunday night, his office confirmed. But officials were waiting to announce the list until workers could be informed Monday morning.
Lawmakers elsewhere are worried as well. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said he was “doing everything I can” to save the Spring Hill, Tenn., plant that is home to GM’s Saturn unit. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., warned that closing the assembly plant in his state would further reduce the company’s already shrinking political clout outside the industrial Midwest.
“It’s a very sad day obviously for Michigan and for the country,” said Rep. Thad McCotter, R-Livonia.
McCotter criticized the Obama administration’s auto task force for pledging early in its existence to try to keep both companies out of bankruptcy court.
“What we ended up with was prepackaged bankruptcy for both GM and Chrysler,” he said. “To hold out hope (that bankruptcy could be avoided), what they should have done was just told us that’s what it was.”
Despite the worry, Michigan lawmakers said the news could have been worse. With an additional $30 billion in federal aid, the company will emerge from bankruptcy better able to compete, and negotiations with the United Auto Workers union lessened the impact of production cuts in the United States, they said.
Sen. Levin pointed to a GM pledge to increase the share of its total auto production located in the United States to 70 percent, and the promise to build a new, small car at one of three assembly plants the company will idle.
“That’s a major change” from the company’s original plans, he said.
“There was some major discussions” on that issue, Rep. Levin said. “I think they made some necessary changes.”
Both Levins said they will keep watch Monday on U.S. bankruptcy court in New York for a decision to approve Chrysler’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy — both for what’s at stake for Chrysler and what it means for GM.
“That story coming the same day (as GM’s filing) would really reinforce the point that it’s not an end, it’s a beginning,” Sen. Levin said.
None of the lawmakers would confirm that GM will decide to leave its headquarters in Detroit, but Sen. Levin, who opposed a possible move to Warren, said he “can confidently predict good news on that.” McCotter said he was all but certain GM would remain at the Renaissance Center.
“It would have been a cruel irony for GM to go into bankruptcy and on the same day leave the RenCen, which is a symbol of rebirth for Detroit,” McCotter said.