December 15, 2008 / 2:38 AM / in 9 years

Treasury says still sifting automakers' data

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman said on Monday that department officials were reviewing information from the auto industry and no decisions had been made yet about a rescue plan.

“We continue to assess and review the information that we have received from the automakers and we are providing regular briefings to the White House on our thinking,” a spokeswoman said.

“No decisions have been made,” she added. “As we continue to assess and review the information we’ll make those determinations.”

President George W. Bush said last week his administration would consider using part of the Treasury’s $700 billion bailout package for financial institutions to keep U.S. automakers afloat over the short term as they sought lasting solutions.

The industry has been hard hit by slumping sales as the economy has tipped into what is now a year-old recession.

Chrysler assembly workers leave the plant after their shift at the Detroit Axle Plant in Detroit, Michigan December 12, 2008. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

The U.S. Senate refused to pass a $14 billion rescue package for Detroit’s three major car companies last week, throwing the whole issue into Treasury’s lap.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson previously said a $700 billion fund that Congress approved earlier was intended to help financial firms, but the White House has effectively put Treasury in a position where it has few options except to also use it to provide some measure of relief to the automakers.

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The timing of any rescue announcement remains vague and there was no indication that anything was imminent.

“We’re reviewing automakers’ financial information, considering our policy options, and when we have something to announce, we’ll announce it,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Toby Zakaria)

Reporting by Glenn Somerville, editing by Gary Crosse

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