Lawmakers Work to Extend Cash for Clunkers

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The House raced Friday to pass legislation pouring an additional $2 billion into the popular -- but financially strapped -- "cash for clunkers" car purchase program.

Reps. Sander Levin, D-Mich., and Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, revealed the floor plan after he and other lawmakers were assured by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that the program would continue at least through Friday while the Obama administration looked for more money.

Democrats in both the House and Senate were exploring the possibility of votes as early as Friday to replenish the funding.

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs sought to assure consumers that the program is still running and will be alive "this weekend."

"If you were planning on going to buy a car this weekend, using this program, this program continues to run," Gibbs told reporters.

He would not commit to any timeframe beyond that.

But Gibbs said administration officials and bipartisan leaders of Congress were working Friday morning "to find and develop ways to continue to fund this program."
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said it wasn't clear when a Senate vote would be held.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said about 40,000 new vehicles had been purchased through the program but dealers estimate another 200,000 vehicles have been sold in transactions that have not yet been completed through the program.
Earl Stewart, who owns a Toyota dealership in North Palm Beach, Fla., said the changing messages on the program has created confusion among his customers and his staff. Stewart's accounting department also could only enter about a dozen of the 47 sales he made into the government Web site set up to handle the transactions, leaving him wondering if he will get refunded for the remaining vouchers.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the program, Stewart said he planned to continue to sell cars under the program Friday but would delay delivering the new vehicles and scrapping the trade-ins. Drivers would be put in loaners until he is absolutely sure the program is still going.
"It's been a total panic with my customers and my sales staff. We are running in one direction and then we are running in another direction," he said.


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