The United States Senate has refused to throw out a $1-billion program intended to boost dwindling car sales in the US from a $106-billion war funding Bill. The Senate voted 60-36 to keep the program that would provide vouchers of up to $4,500 for consumers to trade in their less fuel-efficient cars for cars that give better mileage.
Senator Judd Gregg (Republican) objected to including the program – called ‘cash for clunkers’ – in the legislation because it did not include cuts elsewhere to cover the costs. Senator Gregg also complained that the program was not in the original versions of the war funding Bills that the US Senate and US House of Representatives had passed.
Though the US federal deficit is expected to reach $1.8 trillion this fiscal year, many other lawmakers in the Senate stressed that the ‘cash for clunkers’ program would help reduce pollution and check loss of jobs. Senator Richard Durbin (Democrat) pointed out that the United States was now witnessing the biggest drop in automobile sales in 50 years. Plunging sales of automobiles, he added, had resulted in reduced production and led to a ripple effect across the economy, compelling dealerships and factories to close down.
Some of the Senators complained that the requirements for improved fuel efficiency in the program to boost car sales were “too small” – as little as 2 miles per gallon – and tried in vain to have in place, instead, a program with stricter requirements.
The overall, $106-billion war funding Bill is primarily meant to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September 30, 2009.