Lawmakers voted to pour another $2 billion into the wildly popular "cash for clunkers" program, giving renewed hope to Americans who thought they missed their chance at a $4,500 subsidy to get rid of gas guzzling junkers.
The House approved the bill by a 316-109 vote, just hours after the Obama Administration said the program was in danger of running out of money. The program was initially funded with $1 billion and expected to last until October, but within six days of launch, it appeared the money was all spent.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken old cars in to dealerships to trade in for new models that get better mileage. Under the program, called the Car Allowance Rebate System, or CARS, dealers get a direct subsidy of up to $4,500 toward each car they sell.
"Consumers have spoken with their wallets and they've said they like this program," said Rep. David Obey, (D-Wisconsin).
The Senate is expected to pass the measure early next week.
John McEleney, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, told The Associated Press that many dealers have been confused about whether the program will be extended and for how long. Many had stopped offering the deals Thursday after word came out that the funds available for the refunds had been exhausted.At the White House, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the program will be kept going through the weekend,
"If you were planning on going to buy a car this weekend, using this program, this program continues to run," Gibbs said.