Two key U.S. senators see support for $2 billion Cash for Clunkers expansion

Senators Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. and Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced that each would support a $2 billion extension of the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program, after initially criticizing the original program. Both Senators are known for their pro-environment views, have changed their minds after a Transportation Department analysis showed that cars sold under the program through August 1 averaged 25.4 mpg, an increase of 61% over the mpg average of trade-in vehicles; 15.8 mpg.

“The original intent of the clunkers program was to encourage people to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, and the data so far tells us that’s exactly what’s happening,” Fenistein told Automotive News.

Though this is encouraging news to the program’s supporters, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is cautiously optimistic, as a spokesman of his has voiced concern over the need to still reach an agreement with the Republicans, as in the Senate all it takes is one member of the opposition to filibuster and block a vote.

Feinstein and Collins also mentioned to Automotive News: “We will insist that any extension of the program requires that the minimum fuel economy improvement for newly purchases vehicles be at least two miles per gallon higher than it is under the enacted clunkers program.”

The House passed legislation last week that would add $2 billion in additional funding to the original program, but no such bill yet exists in the Senate.

-By Stephen Calogera