Woodbridge car dealers await government help

With lawmakers in Washington poised to act on a $15 billion bailout for the Big Three U.S. automakers, local car dealerships are paying close attention.

Majority Democrats and the Bush White House reportedly finalized a deal Wednesday to spend the funds on emergency loans for the automakers. But stiff opposition still lingers among Republican lawmakers.

At a General Motors dealership in Woodbridge, employees say their business could be crippled without the bailout.

"The level of uncertainty if GM went bankrupt would be devastating," says Shari Sandidge, of Miller Buick-Pontiac-GMC. "It would be very difficult to move forward and have our customers have confidence in our ability to meet their needs if GM is in bankruptcy."

New Jersey auto dealers are also hoping to tap into an incentive plan being offered by state lawmakers that could yield $3,000 for the hiring of new employees.

"Hopefully taxpayers and the government see that, you know, it's more than just a business - it's a lot people's livelihood," says George Lucas, of Richard Lucas Chevrolet.

The plan in Washington would create a government "car czar" to dole out the loans, with the power to force the carmakers into bankruptcy if they don't cut quick deals with labor unions, creditors and others to restructure their businesses and become viable.

AP wire services were used in this report.

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