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The clunk you hear is the Cash for Clunkers program stopping.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: The Obama administration's Cash for Clunkers program has been so popular, it has apparently run out of money. The program was designed to boost auto sales and offered rebates for consumers to purchase a new car. Now the White House and lawmakers are trying to find a way to keep it going.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL: Cash for Clunkers offered the owners of old cars and trucks up to $4,500 if they traded in their old car for a new more fuel efficient one. The clunker had to get 18 miles per gallon or less. The program only started a week ago, but car dealers around the country saw an immediate rush. David Horn is the general manager of Boardwalk Volkswagen in Redwood City, California.

Mr. DAVID HORN (General Manager, Boardwalk Volkswagen): The atmosphere around the dealership just reminds me of, you know, 10 years ago, when people were just flocking in to buy cars, especially in the Silicon Valley.

SYDELL: But as of midnight last night, Horn and many other dealers are putting the Cash for Clunkers program on hold. Members of Congress have been told that the $950 million program is out of money. According to Charles Cyrill, of the National Automobile Dealers Association, many dealers are worried that they might not be able to get their reimbursements and many say there is a paperwork backlog in Washington. However, Cyrill says, they would like more money for the program because it has been such a boon for car sales.

Mr. CHARLES CYRILL (National Automobile Dealers Association): The timing of the Cash for Clunkers program could not have happened at a better time.

SYDELL: Several members of Congress say they too are working to find more money for the program, but given the current strains on the budget, this might be a difficult task.

Laura Sydell, NPR News.

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