WASHINGTON (AP) – General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner emerged Thursday from a six-hour hearing before the Senate Banking Committee optimistic that a deal can be reached in Congress to help his company survive a critical cash shortage.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Wagoner said many of the questions and suggestions from committee members were compatible with the viability plan GM submitted to Congress on Tuesday in an effort to obtain up to $18 billion in federal loans.

“It’s certainly early for me to guess how this might come out and what specific conditions might be attached, but our own plan suggested that conditions be attached because we thought that was going to be necessary to get everything done,” Wagoner said.

He also was encouraged by statements from committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who expressed an interest in staying in Washington until a rescue plan can be crafted. Dodd also said doing nothing “plays Russian roulette with the entire economy of the United States.”

Wagoner said he hopes a compromise can be formed from GM’s plan and from the options suggested by committee members such as granting GM a portion of the loan and giving it a deadline to negotiate down its bond debt and get further concessions from the United Auto Workers.

“From our perspective, the direction was not uncomfortable for us because I thought it was kind of like, hey, that’s the direction that we had assumed might be the kind of thing that would work for people,” Wagoner said. “I hope it gets some momentum.”

Wagoner, joined by his counterparts Robert Nardelli, CEO of Chrysler LLC, and Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Co., went to Washington earlier this week in an effort to get up $34 billion in loans for all three companies.

Chrysler and GM are dangerously close to the minimum amount of cash required to run their companies, leading UAW President Ron Gettelfinger to predict during the hearing that GM won’t make it through December without government help.

On their last visit in November, the CEOs were skewered by committee members for lacking specifics and for flying on separate private jets to beg for money. But this time, all three drove to Washington in hybrid vehicles after submitting detailed plans to justify their need.

Ford and GM also announced plans to dump their corporate jet fleets. Chrysler only leases planes on an as-needed basis.

Wagoner said clear expectations from the committee and GM’s detailed plan set a different tone for the hearing than the previous visit.

“We had very clear instructions and expectations this time as to what the committee was looking for, and our team worked very hard on what I think generally has been acknowledged as a quite complete plan, and so I think that set a tone that was somewhat different than last time.”

He said that virtually all the questions from the committee were about the company’s plan.

“It seemed like a pretty constructive dialogue.”

AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher reported from Detroit.

AP-ES-12-04-08 1750EST

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