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Corker: UAW Didn't 'release' Dems

Sen. Bob Corker, who emerged as a central player in the auto-bailout debate, insisted Friday that the package that collapsed in the Senate could be revived and easily clear Congress if the United Auto Workers agreed to wage concessions.

In negotiations that stretched through the night Thursday, the Tennessee Republican said he had reached agreement with Democrats, executives of the Big Three auto companies and the United Auto Workers on several key issues, including slashing debt and on an overhaul of employees’ benefits.

But he said what ultimately derailed the deal was the UAW’s refusal to agree to set a date in 2009 to lower wages of its members so they could be in line with the rates of workers at foreign automakers’ plants based in the U.S.

“My prediction is that had we agreed on a date that last night it would have passed the Senate by 90 votes,” Corker, a member of the Banking Committee, told reporters.

The bill instead collapsed by a 52-35 vote, and 60 were needed to advance it.

Corker said he told Ron Gettelfinger, the head of the union, in a phone call Friday morning that “we are so close,” but that the labor chief “is of the belief that there really is no reason to re-enter these conversations” because the White House seems likely to dig into its $700 billion financial rescue package for loans to the industry.


Editor's Note - Comments that include abusive or offensive language will be deleted. Thanks, John Bresnahan
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