This vote was on an amendment by Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., that would have ended the Cash for Clunkers program on Aug. 8, 2009, delayed new funding for the program beyond what’s already been handed out, and required a database of information about cars purchased under the program. The amendment was offered to a bill that would add $2 billion to the popular “Cash for Clunkers” program, which gives vouchers to people to trade in older, less fuel-efficient cars for newer, more fuel-efficient ones.
Kyl said the program is well-intentioned, but that it was passed too quickly and that some have questioned the Transportation Department’s ability to manage it effectively.
“The program has only been running for a couple of weeks, but DOT is already saying the $1 billion appropriated for the program has likely been spent. But nobody really knows. Yet this bill would appropriate an additional $2 billion,” Kyl said. “My view is that before we jump to spend another $2 billion of taxpayers’ hard-earned money, we need to call a time out—clear all of the transactions that qualify, see how much it costs, and evaluate how much more, if any, we want to spend.”
Carl Levin, D-Mich., said though the measure was enacted quickly, it was modeled on very successful programs of a similar nature in several other Western countries. He said it has been a success by all accounts.
“In short, cash for clunkers has exceeded earlier projections in its ability to get older cars off the road and their damaging emissions out of our skies. Seldom have we had an opportunity to do more for our environment than we do today,” Levin said. “Any amendment that is adopted here is the death knell for this program. It would have to end immediately if an amendment is adopted because of the uncertainty over whether funds remain and to what extent. This program is designed to be a one-time stimulus, not a stop-and-start deal, which would make it more complex and confusing.”
By a vote of 40-57, the amendment was rejected. All but four Republicans present voted for the amendment. All but four Democrats present voted against the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have terminated the Cash for Clunkers program in August 2009 and required extensive reports on how funds had been used so far.