WASHINGTON The chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee said on Thursday he favors federal government action to assist the struggling automobile industry and plans to hold a hearing on the issue next week.
"We're going to ask the automobile industry to be here on ... Monday or Tuesday, for a hearing," the Connecticut Democrat told reporters after a hearing on a separate issue.
"I would like to see us do something," he said.
"The Treasury has confirmed to me they have the authority to deal with the automotive industry ... so the authority exists. Now it doesn't require that they use it," he added.
Dodd did not specify whether money to help automakers should come out of the $700 billion financial bailout program approved by Congress and the Bush administration in October and now being implemented.
"There are also other existing authorities under existing laws that can be used to assist the auto industry," he said.
Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, said on Wednesday he plans a hearing November 19 on a bill to lend up to $25 billion to General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler LLC.
The auto giants have been pleading for emergency aid to help them survive a steep and worsening drop in auto sales that they blame on the global credit crisis and slumping economy.
(Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh and Rachelle Younglai, editing by Maureen Bavdek)