Officials: White House, Dems Near Auto Aid Deal

By Julie Hirschfeld Davis

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional aides and a senior administration official say the White House and congressional Democrats have reached an agreement in principle to speed $15 billion in government loans to struggling U.S. automakers.

The plan could see a vote as early as Wednesday. It creates a government "car czar," to be named by President George W. Bush, to oversee the bailout billions and an auto industry restructuring.

The czar would have to yank back the federal money if carmakers didn't do enough to reinvent themselves.

The measure is not final and could still face obstacles from congressional Republicans, who have not approved it.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to announce the developments.