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Oregon Lawmakers Insert Themselves In Auto Politics

There are no major auto factories here in Oregon or the Pacific Northwest.

But that hasn’t stopped regional lawmakers from publicly involving themselves in the national debate over General Motors and Chrysler.

Ethan Lindsey reports.

Portland Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley wrote Chrysler and GM a letter last week.

In it, Merkley said he voted to give the carmakers access to billions in bailout money – but expected them to support Oregon’s local dealers.

Now, Merkley and other lawmakers have a response from Chrysler — it has agreed to buy back 100-percent of its inventory from dealers.

Spokeswoman Julie Edwards says Senator Merkley is pleased that Chrysler made that commitment – but feels the way Oregon’s dealerships were closed was unfair.

Also, last week, Hood River Republican Congressman Greg Walden brought Bend auto dealer Bob Thomas to Washington.

Thomas spoke to lawmakers about the closure of his GM dealership and how it would hurt central Oregon.