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A Storm Over Cash for Clunkers

With the hugely popular “cash for clunkers program” running short on funds, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took to the Sunday morning television circuit to urge the Senate to pass an extension this week. From The Associated Press:

“If we don’t get the $2 billion from the Senate … we would have to suspend the program next week,” LaHood told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” show. He said the administration “will continue the program until we see what the Senate does and I believe the Senate will pass this.”

A number of Senate lawmakers are lining up to oppose the extra funding — some because of the cost, some because the funding steals from a renewable energy program, and some because they say the program’s current rules don’t go far enough to promote better fuel efficiency.

Yet LaHood’s warning that the funds could dry up by Monday — not to mention his insistence that any trades made early this week will be honored — puts these senators in a tough spot: If they deny the funds then the auto-dealers are stuck with the bill, and if they change the terms then they’ll need another vote from the House, which is out of town on a five-week vacation.

Indeed, they may have no choice but to pass the extension, with plenty of grumbling.

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