Thursday, June 11, 2009 8:09am
The auto industry and lawmakers are pushing for quick Senate action on “cash for clunkers” legislation to boost auto sales, after the House overwhelmingly passed such a bill Tuesday. But it remains unclear when Senate supporters may overcome the objections of Senate appropriators and a group of senators who say the House proposal doesn’t do enough to improve fuel efficiency on the nation’s highways, as reported in the Detroit News, Washington Bureau.
The House approved its version Tuesday, 298-199, with substantial Republican support despite the opposition of House leaders including Minority Leader John Boehner and whip Eric Cantor. Opposition came from members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which objected to funding provisions of the bill, and from senators who want tougher fuel economy requirements. Getting the auto loan financed is still no easy process as lenders continue to tighten credit and only approve the very highest credit scores.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced a competing proposal on Monday. Stabenow said Tuesday she’s working with other senators to answer those concerns. One possibility is an idea House leaders are pursuing to attach an appropriation for the program to a wartime spending bill. At some point the lack of auto finance must be addressed. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, auto dealers and other groups also called for speedy Senate passage. President Barack Obama has also encouraged Congress to pass legislation. The bill approved Tuesday would offer vouchers worth $3,500 or $4,500 to new-car buyers, depending on the mileage of their new vehicle. To be eligible, consumers would have to turn in a vehicle rated at 18 mpg or less for one rated at 22 mpg or greater. Pickups and business trucks would have different criteria.