Auto Bailout Rough Draft

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional Democrats have sent the White House a draft of a roughly $15 billion auto bailout that's expected to come to a vote this week.

According to a draft obtained by The Associated Press, the measure would rush bridge loans to Detroit's struggling Big Three and put an overseer chosen by President George W. Bush in charge of monitoring an auto industry restructuring.

The overseer could recall the loans as early as February if the carmakers weren't doing enough to reinvent themselves and become viable. And if the Big Three didn't come up with suitable restructuring plans by the end of March, the "car czar" would have to submit his own blueprint to Congress for a government-mandated overhaul.

Meanwhile, Congressional officials say the lawyer who oversaw the 9/11 victims' compensation fund has emerged as a candidate to be the "car czar" in charge of a bailout for Detroit's Big Three automakers.

Kenneth Feinberg, the special master of the federal Sept. 11 fund, is a contender to run a roughly $15 billion auto rescue and work with the Big Three to restructure their beleaguered companies.

The White House and congressional Democrats are near agreement on an auto bailout that would provide loans on Dec. 15. It would create a federal overseer who could revoke the funds early next year if the companies weren't doing enough to become viable.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no selection has been made.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)