Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, threatened to filibuster any auto bailout deal that reaches the Senate floor during the next week.
During an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Shelby called a Big Three bailout "a bridge loan to nowhere." Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are considering a $15 billion "bridge loan" to keep GM, Ford and Chrysler operating until next spring.
"This is a down payment on many billions to come," Shelby warned. "This is not something that happened overnight. This is 30 years in the making. These companies basically have failed or are failing. They probably need, according to some people, about 60 percent of the management to go, and about 40 percent downsize of the workers."
Shelby added: "We would like to save them, but they've got to save themselves, but I don't believe they're willing to save themselves because they could be restructured the right way and they're not willing to do that."
Shelby said he would like to see an "extended debate" on any bailout package that reaches the Senate floor, but did not know if there was enough support to sustain one.
"It depends what happens in the meantime," Shelby said. "I know people want to get home for Christmas. They want to get outta here and come back [in January]. What I fear, Chris, is the first down payment is just the beginning. It's an installment plan of billions and billions and billions, and we don't know the endgame."
"We can't save people who can't save themselves," Shelby said.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a leading ally of the Big Three on Capitol Hill, predicted there will be an agreement "in 24 hours," but he would not predict whether it would get Senate approval.
"I think they're very close to a deal, I think there will be a deal and that will happen in 24 hours," Levin told host Chris Wallace. "Obviously, that's a much more complicated question of whether the votes are there. What I'm confident of is that a bill will be introduced."