White House: No decisions yet on auto bailout

A car trailer is seen outside a Chrysler plant in Detroit, Michigan December 11, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Saturday no decision had been made yet on how to proceed with a bailout of U.S. automakers and that the Bush administration would take the time to do it right.

“We’ll be focused on trying to get the policy right while considering the best interests of the taxpayer and our economy, and we’ll take the time we have available to do that right,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. “No decisions have been made.”

After it became clear that auto bailout legislation was not going to pass Congress, the White House on Friday reversed its position and said the administration would consider helping the automakers by tapping the $700-billion package designed to rescue the financial sector.

Administration officials were continuing to gather financial information from the automakers on Saturday and assessing data such as their cash position.

“We’ll take a look at that information, make some judgments and review our options,” Fratto said.

Democratic leaders and the main U.S. auto workers union have appealed to the administration to provide emergency funds after a Senate deal to save Detroit’s Big Three automakers collapsed in acrimony late on Thursday.

The White House was looking at a range of options to help the automakers and an announcement of any decision was not expected this weekend, a senior administration official said.

The official said “we’re considering the full range of options with respect to the automakers and we haven’t indicated what we will do, except to note that disorderly bankruptcy is something we should try to avoid.”

Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by John O’Callaghan