WASHINGTON (AP) - The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee said Friday the new bleak unemployment figures makes helping the beleaguered domestic auto industry even more urgent and cautioned colleagues that doing nothing "would be a disaster."
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said "the country is held hostage" by the debate raging over how to help Detroit's Big Three automakers - and the prospect of congressional inaction.
Frank spoke during the second day of testimony from the automakers seeking a government bailout of up to $34 billion - and shortly after the government reported the biggest monthly job loss in 34 years.
Skeptical lawmakers are weighing whether to dole out as much as $34 billion in aid to the automakers as the once-mighty companies make their second round of pleas for government help to keep them from collapsing by year's end and potentially deepening the nation's already painful recession.
"For us to do nothing, to allow bankruptcies and failures in one or three of these companies in the midst of the worst credit crisis and the worst unemployment situation that we've had in 70 years would be a disaster," Frank said ahead of testimony from the CEOs of General Motors Corp., Ford and Chrysler LLC.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)