It's no secret that the U.S. economy, and not least the automotive industry, are in the midst of some of the most difficult times in recent history, and the U.S. Congress is now considering additional aid to the industry to help preserve it in the face of sales at 25-year lows.

Sales dropped to a total of 838,156 new passenger vehicles in October, a 31.9% decline against a year ago, and the lowest total in 25 years, reports the Detroit Free Press. Summing up the situation succinctly, General Motors executive director of market and industry analysis, Mike DiGiovanni said, ""It's really an unsustainably weak level for all manufacturers."

To help right the ship, automakers are expected to begin making requests to Washington for further aid packages, and Congress is reportedly at least tentatively receptive to the idea.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a meeting with high-ranking House Democrats yesterday to discuss new proposals for assisting the automotive industry. A $25 billion loan package has already been passed as part of the $700 billion economic bailout package, but these discussions concern additional programs that could help U.S. carmakers retool factories for more efficient for more efficient, smaller vehicles.

If an agreement is reached, the money won't be a grant free and clear, but will come with limitations on its use, including restraints on use for executive salaries and bonuses, reports The Detroit News.

The industry is still awaiting the disbursement of the $25 billion loan package approved in September, but those funds are expected to be distributed soon.