Letter to the Presidential Auto Task Force

July 8, 2009

Letter to the Presidential Auto Task Force

July 8, 2009

 
The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner                          
Secretary of the Treasury                                           
Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry                       
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW                               
Washington, DC 20502                                             
 
The Honorable Lawrence H. Summers
Director, National Economic Council
Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20502
 
Dear Secretary Geithner and Director Summers:
 
On June 18, I wrote the Attorney General of the United States to express my concerns about the lobbying activities of General Motors (GM) and Chrysler. I would also like to bring these activities to your attention and seek clarification on their propriety.
 
In recent months, GM and Chrysler have received tens of billions of dollars in federal aid. By most reports, the federal government’s stake in GM exceeds 60%. Despite this relationship, both auto manufacturers have maintained at least some lobbying operations.
 
In addition to internal lobbying shops, both GM and Chrysler are members of the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). USCAP is comprised of a group of businesses and environmental organizations that have coalesced for the sole purpose of lobbying the federal government to enact climate change legislation. In fact, USCAP is largely credited with drafting portions of the 1400-plus page Waxman-Markey climate change bill that the House passed on June 26.
 
While Americans may be willing to spend their tax dollars to save manufacturing jobs in the midst of a recession, they should not be asked to increase deficit spending to support lobbyists. GM and Chrysler’s membership in USCAP therefore warrants close scrutiny. Federal dollars extended as a corporate lifeline should not be redirected to influence federal policy, and retired autoworkers should not have to watch as their pension checks are paid to lobbyists in Washington.
 
Taxpayers deserve to better understand how their funds are being spent. To that end, I would appreciate a response to the following questions by July 31, 2009:
 
  • What, if any, federal lobbying is permissible for GM and Chrysler?
  • Does the Presidential Task Force keep track of all bailout funds sent to the auto manufacturers? Have any funds been used to lobby the federal government?
  • What options for enforcement does the Presidential Task Force have if the manufacturers’ lobbying activities are found to be inappropriate?
  • If GM’s and Chrysler’s membership in USCAP is contingent on having received bailout funds, can they maintain their membership in USCAP?
 
I appreciate your assistance in this matter. If you have any questions, please contact Raj Bharwani with the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming at (202) 225-0110.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr
Ranking Member
Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming

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Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming - Republicans
H2-344 Ford House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-0110 | Fax: (202) 225-0095

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