Cash for Clunkers Hits a Rough Patch in the Senate

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The House managed to pivot on a dime and quickly pass legislation to expand funding by $2 billion for the surprisingly popular Cash for Clunkers program before adjourning for summer recess last week. The Senate this week is finding such expedited moves rather more difficult. Turns out the program has opponents from both the left and the right in the upper chamber: progressives like California Senator Dianne Feinstein want to see the legislation’s environmental standards toughened so that, say, they don’t help folks buy 2009 Hummers. Others have expressed reservations that the program applies to foreign, as well as domestic, cars.

These reservations wouldn’t matter if the program enjoyed the same level bipartisan support it did in the House. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell today said he would oppose the Senate bill. “Last week we saw the administration’s tendency to miss the mark on economic estimates again with the so-called Cash for Clunkers program,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “We were told this program would last for several months. As it turned out, it ran out of money in a week, prompting the House to rush a $2 billion dollar extension before anybody even had time to figure out what happened with the first billion.” Officials estimate the original $1 billion allotted for the program will run out by mid-week if the Senate fails to act.