White House, Democrats reach deal on $15 billion auto aid

General Motors Chairman and CEO Richard Wagoner (L-R), Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, Ford Motor Company President and CEO Alan Mulally and United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger sit to testify about a proposed government bailout plan for the US auto industry at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 5, 2008. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic leaders and the White House reached a deal to provide billions of dollars in relief to the ailing U.S. auto industry, a senior congressional aide told Reuters on Friday.

The package, which Democratic leaders hope to win passage of next week and send to President George W. Bush, totals between $15 billion and $17 billion, the aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The amount is far less than the $34 billion requested this week by General Motors, Ford Motor, and Chrysler, but Democratic leaders believe the money will keep them going until Barack Obama replaces Bush as president on January 20 and a new effort can be made for a rescue plan.

Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Gary Hill