King lone Iowa “no” on “Cash for Clunkers” extension

Four of Iowa's five congressmen — Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo; Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines; Tom Latham, a Republican from Ames; and Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon — all voted today in favor of extending $2 billion more for the "Cash for Clunkers" program.  Iowa's other congressman — Steve King, a Republican from Kiron — voted against the bill.  The final tally was 316 to109.

Braley was an original co-sponsor of the concept, back in March.  Braley talked for about five minutes with Iowa reporters over the noon-hour, and you can listen to it here.  As Braley mentioned, congress stipulated the program would get $4 billion of the federal stimulus package approved early this year and put an initial $1 billion into the pipeline.  Braley told reporters the expectation was that $1 billion would last until November. The $1 billion lasted about a week instead, and Braley says that's partly because automakers and dealers offered incentives on top of the $3500 to $4500 you can get from the government for a clunker.  According to Braley, a dealer in the Quad Cities had 127 "clunkers" turned in this week for deals on new cars.

UPDATE:  Here's the letter Braley mentioned in the phone call.

July 31, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC  20500

Ray LaHood
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE
Washington, DC  20590

Dear President Obama and Secretary LaHood:

First off, I would like to thank you for the successful launch of the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS). I have been advocating for this program since I first introduced the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act with Reps. Betty Sutton and Candice Miller on March 17, 2009.

As you know, the CARS program was appropriated $1 billion, far less than the $4 billion that was originally authorized in the House of Representatives on June 9, 2009. This program is set to expire either on November 1st, 2009, or upon the depletion of the $1 billion in funding. It has been reported that the funding for this program is close to running out.

A suspension of this program would be a mistake. It is clear that the CARS program has been a huge success, saving families money while reducing gas consumption and stimulating the economy. It is imperative that Congress and the White House act immediately to provide more funding to keep this program moving.

The Cash for Clunkers program has great potential to spur sales within the auto industry, which will help keep good-paying jobs in communities that have been hit by the economic downturn.  However, we must address dealers’ concerns that they are required to destroy the clunker and provide proof that it has been destroyed before they can even apply for the CARS voucher. If the money for the program runs out, the dealers could be left holding the bag and be out thousands of dollars.

Please help ensure that adequate funding is available for this program and establish a mechanism so that auto dealers know how much money remains for rebates. Auto dealers should have the assurance that all valid CARS transactions they submit will be honored.

Thank you for all of your hard work on this program and others intended to help get our economy back on track. I look forward to working with you to provide additional funding to the CARS program that will boost our economy, save families money, and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.


Bruce Braley
Member of Congress

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.