The U.S. House of Representatives voted 316 to 109 today in favor of H.R. 3435, a bill that will infuse the Car Allowance Rebate System, or Cash for Clunkers program, with an extra $2 billion. Word came late Thursday evening that the program, which offers consumers a rebate of $3,500 - $4,500 for trading in a "clunker," might be suspended after blowing through its initial funding of $1 billion in less than a week. Lawmakers managed to find the extra money in unused loans for renewable energy systems and pass it through the House today before the body breaks for a five-week-long vacation.
The Cash for Clunkers program will reportedly continue through the weekend and into next week when the funding bill arrives in the Senate where swift passage might not be guaranteed. The original bill that launched the program had many detractors in the Senate, some of who may see this as a second opportunity to either end the program or makes its fuel efficiency requirements even stricter. Even the amount of $2 billion could change – for better or worse – before the bill is approved by the Senate.
What should be obvious to everyone, however, is that if the original funding of $1 billion lasted less than a week, can we expect another $2 billion to extend the program more than another two weeks? The original program was slated to receive $4 billion in funding, but it's now clear that even full funding would've been exhausted far short of C4C's original end date in November. Meanwhile, despite reports from dealers that the program's reimbursement process is a mess, at least we know consumers are out there taking advantage of it.
[Source: CNN Money Autos | Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty]