GM CEO Barra, Larry Kudlow met after layoffs announcement

General Motors CEO Mary Barra  met with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Monday, hours after U.S. automaker announced plans to cut thousands of salaried positions and shutter several facilities, FOX Business senior correspondent Blake Burman reported.

Barra had contacted members of Congress and White House officials ahead of the meeting, Reuters reported.

GM declined to comment on the meeting.

The job cuts amounted to about 15 percent of its salaried North American workforce, or around 15,000 employees, according to Reuters. GM said it will close a total of five facilities in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland and Ontario and cease production of several car models, including the Chevrolet Cruze and the Buick LaCrosse.

GM said the move would help streamline its operations and allow for cash savings totaling about $6 billion. The changes come as GM shifts its focus from traditional cars to electric and autonomous vehicles.

"Actions are being taken to reduce salaried and salaried contract staff by 15 percent, which includes 25 percent fewer executives to streamline decision making," Barra said in a statement.

GM shares rose nearly 5 percent on the announcement.

GM’s decision drew strong criticism from President Trump and at least two lawmakers in states impacted by the closures and job cuts. Trump said in a press conference that the automaker “better get back in there soon,” referring to Ohio.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, called on the House Ways and Means Committee to launch an inquiry into GM and other corporate giants who have recently ordered layoffs despite the passage of a tax reform package that lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent.

“I strongly urge the Committee to hold hearings where GM and other corporations who have laid off workers since the passage of the tax break are called to testify regarding tax breaks they received and how this money was spent,” Ryan wrote in a letter to the committee’s leadership. “The American people deserve to know if the tax cuts they paid for are being used to inflate corporate profits at the expense of their economic security and the survival of American workers.”

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, also ripped the decision, calling it a “warning.”

“If we want our auto industry to continue to be the global leader in transforming mobility, federal policy must ensure we keep them at the forefront of innovation and technology,” Dingell said in a statement. “Congress must work together on bipartisan policies that keep manufacturing jobs in this country, develops clean energy, and supports infrastructure to transform our mobility future.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he expressed his “deep disappointment” to Barra regarding the automaker’s decision to close its plant in Ontario.

“GM workers have been part of the heart and soul of Oshawa for generations - and we’ll do everything we can to help the families affected by this news get back on their feet,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.