WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush said over the weekend that he and the Treasury Department are at work on a plan to provide aid to ailing U.S. automakers. On Friday, the Senate voted 52-35 against a House bill that would have provided $14 billion in loans to General Motors, Chrysler and Ford Motor Co.

The Big Three's next best hope is to tap the $350 billion remaining in the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a $700 billion effort to aid banks and Wall Street finance firms.

"Obviously, this will not be a long process because of the ... fragility of the autos," Bush said Sunday. "Given the status of the financial system, an abrupt bankruptcy for the autos could be devastating for the economy. And therefore, we've tried to work with Congress to accomplish the objective of not cratering the economy as well as making sure good money doesn't go after bad."

GM is requesting $4 billion in loans to remain solvent through the month of December and another $4 billion in January. Chrysler's chief has asked for $4 billion to pay its bills through March. Ford has not sought immediate aid but did request a $9 billion line of credit on which to draw if its situation grows worse.