Senator Hutchison Fights to Delay Auto Dealership Closures Affecting 40,000 Employees

Sen. Hutchison: “The dealers are the roadkill in this...”

May 21, 2009

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
Senate Floor
May 21, 2009

 “…More and more of our Senators are learning what has happened to these dealerships that have been notified by Chrysler, that they have three weeks to completely dissolve a business that has been there, a part of a community for 20 years, 30 years, up to 90 years –a the oldest car dealer in Texas is 90 years old, a grandfather, a father, and now a son are running that car dealership which got its notice that three weeks from May 14th that dealership would be closed.

“And just to give you a view of what the dealers received on May the 14th, and why these 789 who received this notice are so concerned, is because the letter that they were sent says: "as a result of its recent bankruptcy filing, Chrysler is unable to repurchase your new vehicle inventory, and, furthermore, as a result of the bankruptcy filing, Chrysler is unable to repurchase your essential special tools.

“So for 90 years of operating a Chrysler dealership, a company is now told that they will have no ability after three weeks to sell a Chrysler automobile and nor will there be a guarantee for repurchase. What my amendment does, which now has 20 very bipartisan cosponsors, is to say give these dealers three more weeks, give them three more weeks to be able to have an orderly transition out of a company that has employees -- there are estimated to be 40,000 employees of these Chrysler dealerships that got three weeks' notice. 40,000.

“The dealers also are the group that have done nothing that caused this problem in the first place. They didn't design the cars. They didn't manufacture the cars, but they did buy them. There is no cost to the company that manufacturers because these dealerships have purchased these cars. They've purchased the parts. They've purchased the special tools to do the repairs. And yet now they're being told they can't sell, they can't repair, and, oh, by the way, we're not going to guarantee that will you have your parts and inventory bought. Now, this is just not right, Mr. President. That's why there are 20 cosponsors to this bill, and it's growing by the hour…

“The dealers are the roadkill in this and they are also the people who have run successful businesses, they have sold the cars, they have employees, they have investments in the community. In many instances, these are the largest employers in the community. They support the high school football program, they support the community charitable events. And we're not only knocking out 40,000 employees, we're not only knocking out the people who have given their faith and loyalty to this brand, but we're knocking out a huge chunk of community activism and volunteer service to the many communities affected by these closings.

“I talked to the President of Chrysler this morning and I believe that he sincerely is trying to save the company, and we want him to do that. But it's been half a day and I have not seen a progress report that we will be able to come back to the floor and say that these dealers are going to get some help from Chrysler.

“The President of Chrysler says he wants to help but I think it is time now that we get some sense of what help is. And if it is purchasing the inventory, getting the financing for the new and ongoing dealerships that will stay in business, we need to know that. These dealer need to know so they can plan. My goodness, it's now probably two weeks until June 9 or so and these people are having to plan for the orderly transition of their companies hopefully not into bankruptcy, but many of them are going into bankruptcy…

“The 20 cosponsors of this amendment when they hear from their dealers and they hear what is happening, they want answers, and they want answers before this bill leaves the floor. And I hope that I can give a better result than I have gotten so far today from The White House, from Chrysler, that something is coming together.

“I think everyone has the right goal. I think we need to work together to achieve that goal.”

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VIDEO:  Senator Hutchison’s Senate Floor Speech