The U.S. House has approved a bill that would extend $2 billion more to the "Cash for Clunkers" program which offers up to $4,500 to vehicle owners who trade in an old gas-guzzler for a new car. Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, was one of the original co-sponsors of the program back in March.
"This has been a phenomenally successful program, probably once of the most successful incentive programs in government history," Braley says. The program’s been up and running for about a week and federal officials estimate Americans have traded in a clunker and bought about 40,000 new, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
"A dealership in the Quad Cities, Lujack Automotive, has already had 127 ‘Cash for Clunkers’ transactions in less than the first week the program was in effect, so this has been a huge success — saving families money and reducing their fuel consumption and stimulating the economy which is exactly what this program was designed to do," Braley says.
Some dealers have expressed concerns, though, as they’ve been unable to register their "Cash for Clunkers" transactions on the government’s website and fear they won’t get paid. Braley says that’s why he’s sent a letter to President Obama and the head of the U.S. Department of Transportation, asking them to address some of the concerns.
"I don’t want dealers who have eligible vehicles to be left holding the bag," Braley says. "And that’s why we we’re going to move quickly to make sure that the program is improved in how it’s implemented to make sure that dealers can get prompt confirmation that they have a viable transaction."
The bill providing $2 billion more for the "Cash for Clunkers" program passed the House moments ago on a 316 to 109 vote.
"I’m also hopeful that the senate is going to act quickly on this," Braley says. "My hope is that if they don’t act today they will act early next week and we can get this bill to the president’s desk and get it approved."
Congress originally authorized $4 billion for the program, but started out by putting just a billion dollars in the pipeline to get it off the ground. Braley says the expectation was that the billion dollars "would last through November," but with manufacturers and dealers offering incentives on top of the government’s $3,500 to $4,500 for a clunker, the federal program has been "overwhelmed," according to Braley.