WASHINGTON (March 20, 2009)—Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, has introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to encourage motorists to scrap older, supposedly high-polluting and gas-guzzling vehicles by offering them vouchers to buy new cars.
H.R. 1550 would offer vouchers to motorists of $3,000 to $5,000, depending on new cars' country of origin and posted fuel economy figures, to drivers in exchange for scrapping “inefficient” vehicles. The Department of Transportation would keep a list of “inefficient” vehicles, and participating auto dealers would have to certify that cars on the list were crushed or shredded within a time period set by DOT.
Vehicle scrappage, or “cash for clunkers,” is supported by U.S. auto makers and the United Auto Workers, which point to the success of similar programs in Germany and France to persuade consumers to buy new cars.
However, groups such as the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association and the Automotive Service Association oppose any scrappage legislation that doesn't offer an alternative giving motorists vouchers to repair and retrofit older vehicles, as H.R. 1550 does not. There is no empirical evidence to show that such programs actually offer environmental benefits, they say, and such a law hurts independent auto repairers and auto hobbyists who depend on used cars for business and parts. The AAIA made opposition to vehicle scrappage legislation a key issue of its recent Aftermarket Legislative Summit March 11-12 in Washington.
H.R. 1550 has four co-sponsors and has been assigned to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit within the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Similar legislation in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was offered but rejected as a part of the economic stimulus package approved by Congress earlier this year. Opponents of the legislation, however, fear it could be offered as a provision of energy legislation they expect to be introduced soon.