WASHINGTON (June 11, 2009)—By a 298-119 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a “Cash for Clunkers” bill that would give motorists vouchers for trading in older, gas-guzzling cars for more fuel-efficient new vehicles.
As passed by the House, the voucher plan is open to consumers with passenger cars newer than 25 years old that get 18 mpg or less. They would get a $3,500 voucher for vehicles that get at least 22 mpg. For a gas mileage improvement of at least 10 mpg above their old cars, they would receive $4,500.
For owners of sport-utility vehicles, pickup trucks and minivans with mileage of 18 mpg or less, $3,500 vouchers would be available for new vehicles with at least 2 mpg improvement, $4,500 for 5 mpg improvement.
The legislation allows the recycling and resale of drive train components as separate parts. “We tried for the engine as well, but we didn't get there,” said Stuart Gosswein, director of federal government affairs for the Specialty Equipment Market Association.
Gosswein said SEMA was grateful to Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, sponsor of the House legislation, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., author of a similar Senate bill, for listening to SEMA's concerns and incorporating the drive train recycling and 25-year exemption provisions in the bill. Nevertheless, the association is disappointed in the vehicle scrappage aspect of the bill.
“At this point, we're trying to mitigate the legislation to have the least negative impact on our members,” Gosswein said.
The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association also has grave concerns about the legislation, according to Aaron Lowe, AAIA vice president of government affairs.
“We're disappointed but not surprised that it passed,” Lowe said. “The bill has strong support in Congress, but though we support a stimulus plan for vehicle sales, we are concerned that this is not the stimulus the industry needs.”
Auto makers, workers and dealers support the “Cash for Clunkers” option, citing the success of similar legislation in Germany for stimulating vehicle sales.
There was no immediate word on when “Cash for Clunkers” would reach the Senate floor. Some senators, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., are proposing an alternative to the Stabenow bill that would require larger gas mileage improvements in order to obtain vouchers.