'Cash-for-Clunkers' Program Runs Out of Gas
By Ben Pershing, Dana Hedgpeth and Sholnn Freeman
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called members of Congress on Thursday to inform them that the "cash for clunkers" program will be suspended at midnight because the program has run out of money, congressional sources said.
Members of the House and Senate from Michigan plan to meet at 9 a.m. Friday to strategize on how to revive the program, and they intend to ask the Obama administration to divert some funding from the existing economic stimulus package to maintain a scheme that they see as genuinely stimulative.
"We're going to try to figure out what's a realistic amount of money and get it into the program," Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) learned of the shutdown through news reports, her spokesman said, but she pledged to consider next steps in the program.
"We're just learning of news reports concerning the success of this program. We will be working with the congressional sponsors and the administration to quickly review the results of the initiative," Brendan Daly, Pelosi's spokesman, said.
Cody Lusk, president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association, said, "Clearly, this has been a very stimulative program that's got consumers back into the car market. It's our hope that possibly more funds can be made available."
Lusk said his group has fielded hundreds of calls from frustrated dealers who were experiencing computer crashes as they tried to input data into the government's Web site to complete deals.
The $1 billion program was set up by the U.S. government in June. The idea was to entice consumers to trade in their gas-guzzling cars for more fuel-efficient models, both to boost auto sales and improve the nation's fuel efficiency. Money set aside for the program, which started six days ago, was close to running out or may have run out if more consumers turn in their cars this weekend.
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