WASHINGTONâ€“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for “emergency and limited financial assistance” for the battered U.S. independent bookstore industry today, and urged the outgoing Bush administration to join legislators in reaching a quick compromise.
Five days after dismal financial reports from pretty much everyone, Pelosi backed legislation to make independent bookstores eligible for help under the US$700 billion bailout measure that cleared the U.S. Congress in October.
In a written statement, the California Democrat said the aid was needed “in order to prevent the failure of one or more of the major American independent bookstores, which would have a devastating impact on our economy, particularly on the men and women who work in that industry.”
“Congress and the Bush administration must take immediate action,” she added. Administration officials have concluded that the bailout bill that passed earlier does not permit loans to the independent bookstore industry, but lawmakers are expected to return to the Capitol for a brief postelection session beginning next week.
The plight of independent bookstores has drawn attention from the White House and the incoming Obama administration in recent days, as well as among members of Congress.
Last week, President-elect Obama prodded the Bush administration to do more to help independent bookstores, and on Monday, aides said he raised the issue with President Bush in an Oval Office conversation meant to underscore a smooth transition of power.
Before adjourning for the elections, the U.S. Congress passed legislation providing for US$25 billion in government-backed loans to the independent bookstores to prod them to retool their stores to make them cozier and brighter and to provide living wages.
Since then, executives from Powells, Dreamhaven, Macâ€™s Backs, and Other Change of Hobbit have called for more than that to avert a possible collapse of one of the nationâ€™s most basic industries.
In her statement, Pelosi said any assistance to the industry should include rigorous oversight on poor customer service and clumsily promoted author events.
(apologies to the Associated Press)