Congress gave final approval early today to a $3.5 billion aid package for Chrysler Corp. and then went home until January.
The action came after a House-Senate conference worked out a compromise that essentially split the difference between House and Senate versions of the rescue legislation.
The House vote was 241 to 124, with Democrats heavily in favor and Republicans generally opposing.
The Senate vote was 43 to 34. It was delayed while Sen. William L. Armstrong (R-Colo.) staged a mini-filibuster to protest the helter-skelter procedures that often prevail in the last days of a congressional session.
President Carter was expected to sign the measure into law promptly to help Chrysler, which has said it will run out of money in January.
The key element in the compromise was a provision requiring the United Auto Workers union to forgo $462.5 million of an estimated $1.3 billion in newly won pay raises over the next 33 months.
The Senate bill had demanded that Chrysler workers give up $525 million in pay raises, the House measure $400 million. The Senate bill originally had mandated a wage freeze.
The compromise bill also contains language that would enable Chrysler to take advantage of the loan guarantee more quickly -- although it still would not provide the interim loan the company had requested to help tide it over until it could complete the financing arrangements required by the bill.
On other key issues, the conferees voted to require white-color Chrysler workers to give up $125 million in expected wage increases, and agreed to require Chrylser to turn over $162.5 million worth of its stock to workers, giving them substantial part-ownership in the company in return for their forgone raises. Both figures were halfway between the House and Senate versions.
The vote marked a bittersweet victory for the UAW, which had fought vigorously to avert a wage freeze, but still had hoped to hold its required concessions below $425 million.
UAW officials said privately they may have some difficulty in persuading members to ratify so large a concession. The measure will cost union members an average $4,600 each over the 33 months.
The Chrysler bill was the last major item on the lawmakers' agenda this session. The two houses will return briefly on Jan. 3, as required by the Constitution, then recess again until Jan. 22.
The Chrysler bill would make possible about $3.5 billion in overall aid to the cash-starved automaker -- $1.5 billion in federal loan guarantees, the rest in concessions from banks, suppliers, dealers and workers.
Chrysler asked for federal help early last summer after it became apparent that the company's large inventory of big cars would not sell swiftly in the face of the gasoline shortage. The Carter administration backed the rescue effort.
The Chrysler bill is the fourth major federal bailout effort in recent years. Similar loan guarantees were made available in 1971 to Lockheed Aircraft Corp. in 1971 and twice in the last two years to the New York City government.
The Chrysler rescue effort is controversial. Traditionalists object strongly to government underwriting of private business, while liberals insist the help is necessary to avert widespread unemployment.
House and Senate also compromised yesterday on the size and makeup of the government board that will administer the loan guarantees. It will have three voting members -- the secretary of the Treasury, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and the comptroller of the Currency. The secretaries of Labor and Transportation would sit as advisers.
The bill would prohibit Chrysler from paying dividends on its stock as long as the government guarantees are still outstanding.
The House has passed legislation appropriating $1.5 billion for the loan guarantees as a gesture of congressional commitment to the rescue effort. The Senate followed suit early today.
Yesterday's compromise did not deal with Chrysler's request for an interim loan that company executives say is needed to tide the firm over until the loan guarantees are fully available.
Although Chrysler had warned it would run out of cash in January without this so-called "bridge" loan, company officials said yesterday they believed they could get by through concessions, such as deferral of bills, form suppliers and other creditors.
The conference committee compromised other thorny issues -- what status to give the fedeal government should the company renege on any new loans, and how much collateral to require under the guarantee plan.
The House had approved stiff language that would place the federal government first in line in the event that the company went under and would require full collateral for any new loans. The Senate had approved a softer provision. Treasury officials warned that banks might shy from the House restrictions.
The conferees voted last night to relax the House restrictions on $400 million of the $1.5 billion in federal loan guarantees -- enough to allow the banks more leeway -- but to maintain the stiff requirements on any loans above that.
Despite last night's agreement to adopt the more liberal House language on financing requirements, Chrysler officials said the company almost certainly will have to sell some of its assets to make ends meet in the next few weeks.
Company executives said it probably will take the firm at least two months to work out the complex legal arrangements with suppliers and creditors that are required by the bill. UAW ratification of the wage concessions also could take some time.