Detroit's Big Three automakers should quit rather than just making pay concessions in return for a US$25bn taxpayer loan, a senior US congressman has said.

House of Representatives majority whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, was quoted last night (1 December) as saying during a press conference: "If I had my way, all three of those guys would be in the unemployment line and I think that ought to be one of the conditions for us doing this. They need to be giving up their jobs, not just their packages."

A US media report said Clyburn (whose state is home to America's BMW car assembly plant) would be responsible for persuading politicians to vote for a rescue package.

"We need to have new leadership. That's what we would do if we had this kind of failure on a football field. We would be getting a new coach - sometimes a new athletic director," he was quoted as saying. "We need to clean house with these guys and bring in new people."

Clyburn also said any automaker rescue package should come from the $700bn earmarked earlier for financial institutions, not a separate $25bn exclusively for the automakers.

He also reportedly criticised the Big Three CEOs for flying on separate private jets to the earlier congressional hearings in Washington last month.