Senate Refills 'Cash-For-Clunkers' Program The Senate has approved legislation to provide an additional $2 billion for the "cash for clunkers" program. The final vote was 60-37. The House voted last week to keep the program alive.
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Senate Refills 'Cash-For-Clunkers' Program

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Senate Refills 'Cash-For-Clunkers' Program

Senate Refills 'Cash-For-Clunkers' Program

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep with Linda Wertheimer. And we now have an announcement from NPR's Andrea Seabrook.

ANDREA SEABROOK: Cash for Clunkers - now with more cash - $2 billion more. That triples the size of the program. The White House says it means hundreds of thousands more people will be able to trade in their gas guzzlers for shiny, new more efficient cars and get up to 4,500 bucks for it. Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow was a leader of the push. She said it's not just good for her home state of Michigan. It's…

Senator DEBBIE STABENOW (Democrat, Michigan): Something for consumers. Something that people can see that's tangible. It's not just a debate about what may happen sometime in the future. But it's about right here, right now.

SEABROOK: Senators of both parties said praise has poured in from their states. People love Cash for Clunkers, especially car dealers. Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn.

Senators TOM COBURN (Republican, Oklahoma): I have not heard from a dealer in my state that is not for this program. There is no question it is stimulatory. There's no question, however, that the stimulation is one based on time of sales, not on true total stimulation to our economy.

SEABROOK: Coburn contends the program is just speeding up new car sales, compressing them into this summer and not actually spurring new buyers into the market. Arizona Republican Jon Kyl said nobody really knows what's going on with the program, because it's moving too fast. Cash for Clunkers started less than two weeks ago. Kyl also wondered how much money the Senate would keep pouring into the program.

Senator JON KYL (Republican, Arizona): Former President Ronald Reagan used to describe it by saying there's nothing more permanent than a temporary government program.

SEABROOK: But Senator Stabenow, the Democrat from Michigan, charged back that of all the economic stimulus Congress has passed this year, Cash for Clunkers is working the best.

Senator STABENOW: My colleagues on the other side of the aisle, who are constantly bashing the recovery package for not delivering immediate results, should be jumping for joy. I mean, there has been nothing more immediate, nothing more timely.

SEABROOK: A handful of senators introduced amendments to the program, including one that would've made money available only to families that earn less than $75,000 a year. But changing this bill in anyway would've effectively killed it. Why? Democrat Carl Levin, Michigan's other senator, said since the House has already passed the bill and adjourned for the summer…

Senator CARL LEVIN (Democrat, Michigan): We cannot keep this Cash for Clunkers program going unless we adopt the House bill today.

SEABROOK: And so they did. With that senators burnt up a little fuel themselves, jetting out of Washington for their summer recess.

Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, the Capitol.

INSKEEP: The Cash for Clunkers program includes safeguards to make sure that the inefficient cars you trade in are never driven again. For example, a hole gets drilled in the engine. Whatever protections they have in Germany don't seem to be working out so well.

German authorities started a cash for clunkers program but believe that criminals are buying cars meant for the scrap yard. And they're exporting them for profit. A German police union says about 50,000 cars have been sold illegally to customers in Eastern Europe and Africa.

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