Other auto suppliers and dealers with showrooms empty of customers plan to join the effort Monday when Congress returns following the Nov. 4 elections. The key Senate vote on preventing opponents from blocking the package could occur as early as Wednesday.
"There's a need for immediate action," Alan Reuther, the United Auto Workers union's legislative director, said Friday. He said one option under consideration was a smaller, more targeted amount of funding "that would get the companies through to March."
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said negotiations were taking place among senators on what the amount should be. "This is about getting enough votes to be able to solve the problem," she said.
Democrats want to carve a portion of the $700 billion that the Bush administration is using to bail out banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions. The White House on Friday came out firmly against the approach.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said the administration would rather Congress expedite the release of a separate $25 billion loan program for the development of fuel-efficient vehicles and have the loans used for more urgent purposes as the companies struggle to stay afloat.
"Democrats are choosing a path that would only lead to partisan gridlock," Perino said.
Environmentalists and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have vehemently opposed using that money for anything other than designing and building vehicles that get higher gas mileage and produce less pollution. Democrats hold a 37-seat majority in the House and bailout supporters foresee little difficulty winning its passage there.
But the measure needs 60 votes to survive in the Senate, where Democrats will hold a razor-thin 50-49 majority when President-elect Barack Obama gives up his seat on Monday. A furious search was on for a dozen Republicans to break the anticipated filibuster from opponents.